Don't let the synths fool you. 4.5 stars
strangeitude | 03/27/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Some rock fans think the fact that there is some keyboard and synth overkill in Power Windows, demerits the album mislabeling it of 'pop-ish'. There are lot of 80s keyboards indeed and some synths, also there is a lot of wonderful bass playing going on here and some elegant, sharp and fast guitars.
Listen to Rush albums in order since Permanent Waves through Hold Your Fire, there is a natural and logical musical evolution in keyboard use. Keyboards and synths are just other instruments to play and Rush used them to give another dimension to their music (OK, I admit that in Hold Your Fire the lush and clinical production was a bit too much).
So, I do not see the 'pop' in wonderful songs like Manhattan Project, Marathon, Territories or Mystic Rythms; lesser tracks as Grand Designs, Middletown Dreams or Emotion Detector have guitar solos, fast masterful bass playing and puzzling drums that will be the envy of any rocker dude.
The true Rush fan do not stops to think in little things to enjoy their music. If you are exploring Rush and never have heard this album, pick it at once, the rewards are endeless with each listen. I also recommend the 'Show of Hands' live album as an excellent starter to explore this Rush period (and guitarrist Alex Lifeson hits more the distorsion pedal), if you want to play it safe.
Want 'Pop'? Go and get some Maddona, New Kids on the Block, or Timberlake...if you don't see or feel a difference with Rush you can vote negative."
Putting It All Together
James C. Dascoli | Millburn, NJ USA | 01/28/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"With any band that has such a deep catalog of music and styles, one's perspective often depends on when they became fans of the band. Prior to Power Windows, I was a casual fan, which at that time consisted of post Tom Sawyer productions. While Signals and Grace Under Pressure had some very good songs, neither album was complete. Rush and Geddy Lee in particular, were like kids with a powerful new corvette (or barchetta), aka the keyboards, but didn't quite know how to properly shift gears. With Power Windows, they became F-1 drivers. This was, in my opinion, their best and most complete album, one where they seemlessly integrated all of their musical and lyrical talents and clearly understand the proper blend of all the instruments and tools in front of them. There are no filler songs, no experiments that fail to deliver, just an album that while incorporating strong blends of '80s sounds, still carries itself as a stand alone time piece (wow!) 25 years later.
While the more commercially remembered song "Manhattan Project" can seem a bit dated right now, amazing how much simpler the world was when all we had to worry about nuclear annihilation, many of the other songs can still resonate today. From the prescient and soulless nature Goldman Sachs/AIG/FNM etc of "Big Money" to the warning of unbridled and unquestioned patriotism of "Territories" to the more personal soul searching of "Emotion Detector" and the wistfulness of "Middletown Dreams", lyrically Peart is able to not only tap into the gestalt of his time but of timeless themes.
No matter your political or personal orientation, and mine probably being to the right of some of they lyrical content, Peart does an exceptional job of throwing out philosophy, concerns, debates without using a sledgehammer, a sharp contrast to most performers in this day and age. Peart and Lee do the best job of integrating their old playing styles with new technology, without letting the technology overshadow their talents. Peart especially shines on "Mystic Rhythms", while Lee has his usual phenomanl bass lines on "Big Money", "Marathon" and "Territories". Lifeson sacrifices some of his harder rock and jamming tendencies, which came back to the forefront in later albums, for a much more textured and layered format, to match and supplement the keyboards.
Clearly this was the best of as many would call their "keyboard" diven era (Signals to Presto). While "Hold Your Fire" has many good moments, it relied to heavily on keyboards and was a turning point from Lifeson's point of view, where they needed to regroup and start focusing on more guitar and less keyboards.
Whether this is their "best" album, is a matter of perspective. Many older Rush fans, would consider it heresy to think so and would surely argue the unending virtues of 2112, Hemispheres, while newer Rush fans probably prefer an album closer to Roll The Bones. "Best" is rather subjective anyway in a band with 18 "original" albums. Better to leave it subjectively as my favorite, and objectively, as the best of that particular era of Rush."