Rush in the ’80s was never so stuffily progressive as all that. In fact, the band was very strictly formalist: impeccable musicians used their powers to write very precise pop tunes. “Subdivisions” is middle-school nihilism to a banging drone offset by springy jazz bass; “Distant Early Warning” bends white-boy reggae to the breaking point, wresting a lilting, ominous lullaby out of Cold War dread; the insistent, ringing power pop of “Time Stand Still” features a young (and not altogether out of place) Aimee Mann. The three continued to know exactly what they were doing, and there were tasty hooks and plenty of “holy FUCK, did you just hear that!?” snippets of virtuosity to make sure you followed right along.
New album: not bad; Test for Echo: unfortunately but unsurprisingly forgotten; Keyboard Rush: still the best; Ayn Rand: eh, whatever — Why Rush Is A Pop Band, And Other Things Your High School Weed Dealer Would Never Admit at VV Sound of the City