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A Transition Album - 76%

Metalich, July 22nd, 2007

Rush opens up a new era in musical direction with Presto, it being the first releases after their third live offering in Show of Hands. Rush starts to move out from the synth 80’s and their roll as composers to slowly find a new direction in the wastes of the 90’s. This makes Presto a transition album, a loner of sound and style that is really a forgotten part of the catalogue. The popcorn pop sentiments still cling like a remnant of the past, but merge with the reemerging roll of Lifeson along with the bands reawaken desire to fire on all cinders again. This makes Presto a difficult and tumultuous release that rattles as much as it rides, but hiding beneath the hood of this enigma the band pulls some rabbits out of the hat with some excellent performances.

Geddy Lee is in good form, his bass working its magic, being more than rhythm and a driving force as a whole. Once again he steps out and performs some succinct but good bass solos and the occasional bass lead. Singing, he’s grown as a singer and delivers more in the realm of dynamics and melodies. Neal Peart has turned in a better performance with more interesting material, stepping up his game over the previous two releases, and this enriches these quirky performances. He even goes so far to rebuild his kit to pull off some excellent drum work on “Scars”. Don’t be fooled by the high production, there are no overdubs here – I’ve seen him perform it live and can attest it is the real deal. Alex Lifeson, however, is the real story, as he tunes in on Presto and joins the fray. While certainly not a return to form, he does go equal time with the synths and it is a welcome thing indeed. Further, for the first time in years he pulls out the acoustic guitar. There is plenty on Presto to enjoy as the band slowly puts some punch back into playing.

However, these fine points don’t change the fact that the sound struggles, this transition from musical, writing, and production styles creates a mix that lacks identity; but the sound hints at a power thanks to the guitars, even if it won’t be realized for another album. In fact, that’s the feeling I get from this album, a sort of identity crisis that makes you wish to get on to the next album and hear exactly where the band intends to go with their music. Guitar based versus crash into mainstream choruses and the whole eclectic mess results in an album only a Rush fan can love, for only he will take the time to unlock and appreciate Lee’s solo work in “Show Don’t Tell”, Peart’s percussion in “Scars”, or Lifeson’s leads in “Superconductor”. But notice I speak in moments, parts of songs, and not as a whole. There are quality songs to rip, but overall the moments hide within other songs and are just as easy to pass over, which is why this album is ultimately just as easy to pass over as you move through a discography with much more to offer.