Rush’s later albums are often overshadowed by classic albums like 2112 (1976), Permanent Waves (1980) and of course Moving Pictures (1981) but like albums such as Presto (1989) and Roll The Bones (1991), I consider Vapor Trails to be one of the more underrated albums by the Canadian trio.
Whilst, 2002’s Vapor Trails may not be Rush’s musically diverse album (it was the first album in 27 years to have no keyboard/synth parts). Vapor Trails takes a new direction both musically and lyrically. Musically, it has a more modern sound with songs such as “Ceiling Unlimited” and “Nocturne” and “Out of The Cradle”. The lyrics are more personal, (drummer Neil Peart had lost both his wife and teenage daughter in the space of a year after the release Test for Echo and so the band decided to take a long hiatus from music).
Vapor Trails was a true sign of Rush bouncing back, I liked Test for Echo but for me, there were definitely stronger albums and having released sixteen studio albums pre-21st century. The fact that they came back after having growing through a very long and rough patch with personal tragedies is something to be truly admired.
Now if you’re a massive Rush fan like me (which means you’ve listened to Rush post-Hold Your Fire!) you probably know what I’m going to say next, with Vapor Trails, there was always going to be questions asked. The album did draw a lot of criticism because of it’s production and overly compressed sound but it never stopped me listening to it at 14, where I went through a serious Rush phase. I will say that the remixed version of the album is more listenable and I actually dig hearing different versions of studio songs, I hear demos and I think “Wow, imagine if that had been the version that made it on the album rather than the final recording.” It’s something I’ve always taken interest in.
Personal highlights of the album for me include the opening track, “One Little Victory”, “Ghost Rider”, “Secret Touch” and “Earthshine” and “Nocturne”.
For me, “Vapor Trails” is a special album as it represents a sense of moving forward, whenever I was sad or depressed about something, I could take my mind off of it by just listening to the album, any Rush album in general but “Vapor Trails” helped me the most.
*If you want to know why it’s spelled “Vapor” instead of “Vapour”, it has the Americanised version of the word on the album’s release.
Album Image from http://millheiser.com/hokeyblog/2016/05/02/album-review-vapor-trails-rush-2002/