A mere 47 years since their debut, and 20 years since their last record, Pink Floyd return and simultaneously disappear for good…
Band: Pink Floyd
Album: The Endless River
Even Axl Rose would agree that 20 years is a long time to wait for an album, however when it’s an album that displays the quality and outstanding beauty of The Endless River, it becomes very easy to forgive. It’s been acknowledged (by David Gilmour himself) that most of the ideas for this piece came to fruition during the recording of 1994’s The Division Bell, and were initially intended to be part of a seperate project called “The Big Spliff”. A change of heart later meant that these recordings would form the bare bones of this year’s release.
Comprised of four “sides” – each with a very different feel, The Endless River seems to owe more to Floyd’s earlier, more experimental material than the radio friendly soft-rock of The Division Bell. However, it’s fair to say that little hints towards the more familiar moments from the entire Pink Floyd catalogue crop up throughout, making the whole album feel like something of a retrospective spanning their illustrious career. It is also a belated tribute to departed keyboard player Rick Wright, and heavily features some of the last recordings he made before his demise. As such, that glorious keyboard sound that has served the band so well throughout their history, really gets a chance to shine through.
As is the usual situation with a Floyd album, it’s better listened to as a whole than as individual tracks, however individual moments of true brilliance do occur, such as the characteristic Gilmour soloing on ‘It’s What We Do’ and the Wall-reminiscent stomp of Allons-y (parts 1 and 2). It should be noted too, that while the album is almost entirely instrumental (only the final track has anything other than the oohs and aahs of backing singers), there is always enough happening to keep the listener engaged, from the haunting organ sound of ‘Autumn ’68’, to the Stephen Hawking dialogue on the aptly named ‘Talkin’ Hawkin”
The final piece, and the only real “song” on the album, is the record’s crowning glory. Titled ‘Louder Than Words’ and with lyrics written by Gilmour’s wife, it takes an introspective look at the band’s history, and the now infamous feuding which effectively tore them apart as an entity (Roger Waters has not been a member of Pink Floyd since 1985). It’s at this point that the one small criticism of the album comes to light – and it is an atomically tiny one – David Gilmour’s voice is still in impeccable condition, and a little more of it on The Endless River might have made this a 10/10 record.
Even so, The Endless River is an emotional, glorious and fitting end for a band that accomplished so much and inspired so many along their way. While the more casual Floyd listener might not properly “get” the intended subtlety of the record, the devoted fans (of whom there are countless numbers) will consider this a classic, and a welcome addition to the Pink Floyd story.
Words – Alex Loach