Headlong Flight, the new single by Canadian prog band Rush, hit the airwaves a few days ago. With their new album Clockwork Angels ready to drop on June 12th and a North American tour announced for the beginning of September, it’s going to be a brilliant year for Rush fans. Headlong Flight has a running time of about 7:20, classic Neil Peart drums, and remarkably chilled Geddy Lee vocals (well, for him anyway). It’s both a tribute to their golden days and a nod to their new, harder sound.
Starting off with a sitar-inspired (yet somehow metal) bass riff that only Geddy Lee could write, it’s evident from the start of this song that it’s a good deal harder than fans of the band might be used to. After around thirty seconds the drums and guitar kick in – heavy on snare, distortion, and, well, just heavy in general. No worries drummers, your lord and saviour Neil Peart does not disappoint. With tight and clean toms and loads of muted crashes (perfectly combined with Alex Lifeson’s short and not-so-sweet riffs), musically speaking, this song is the kind of masterpiece that Rush haven’t produced since the seventies. Throughout its seven minutes this song practically goes through more time changes than the Rolling Stones have albums.
Rush have always been one for grand statements, and Headlong Flight doesn’t disappoint. Frankly, I believe that it’s up to the listener to decide what a song is about, so I’m not going to give you my interpretation. But I will say this. If it’s even possible, the already quite philosophical Rush seem to be maturing… The key line, “I wish that I could live it all again”, sung with remembrance rather than regret, particularly sticks. Who knows what we’ll see on Clockwork Angels, perhaps Plato quotes instead of Ayn Rand?
In case some of you are unfamiliar with them, Rush are a pretty special band to us Canadians. When the Americans taunt us with Metallica, when the English emasculate us with Iron Maiden, our response is always one word: Rush. They’re said to be a bit of a musician’s band, but in my experience, musicians have pretty good taste. I can remember being fourteen years old, hanging around my friend’s flat with two of us on drums, two on guitar, and one on bass, all unsuccessfully and half-heartedly attempting to screech like Geddy Lee. It truly was love at first triplet-encompassing bass lick. Although it may not be so for most, trust me – they might end up growing on you.
Headlong Flight is deep without preaching, it’s musically complex without showing off, and it somehow manages to be an eon long while never dragging. If this song proves anything, it is that Rush are changing yet again.