Wednesday 3 December 2014

Review of 'The Endless River' by Pink Floyd

Pink Floyd have had a long and eventful career, which this Wikipedia page can fill you in on. Those unfamiliar with the band’s sound can check out this classic hit below. Floyd at their finest…

It was during the seventies that Pink Floyd were at their peak, the decade in which they forged their most epic and memorable works, influencing the future of progressive and psychedelic music. Current Pink Floyd aren’t quite the same band. For one, the group have all aged, as is the case with most human beings. They’re also missing members (and by this I mean the line-up has changed, limbs haven't started dropping off - they're not that old). These missing key members, include vocalist, Roger Waters, who left thirty years ago and keyboardist, Richard Wright, who sadly passed away in 2008.

Lead guitarist, David Gilmour, took over the vocals after Waters’ departure, but has decided to give it up on this album after the general consensus that his lyrics sucked. The result is a primarily instrumental record – the only exceptions being the closing track ‘Louder than Words’, performed by Gilmour and written by his wife, and a surprise vocal feature from Stephen Hawking a few tracks before.

Comprised of odds and ends written and recorded over the years, The Endless River is an ambitious record. There are guitars and drum parts that were left off earlier releases and even some original keys from the late Richard Wright on here.

In terms of musicianship, it’s all pretty flawless. I wasn't expecting shitty riffs made of one note chugs from Gilmour and there aren't any. However, being a meal built entirely from leftovers, compositionally the album's not great. The large problem is that most of the leftovers used are ambient interludes that lack any real meatiness. There are no build-ups or climaxes here, and therefore no suspense. The album becomes very easy to zone out of because it’s constantly going nowhere (perhaps hence the ‘Endless River’ title).

It could just be the band members’ respective ages, but The Endless River also just feels worn and tired. Some of its quite pleasant, but in an ‘elevator music’ kind of way that's devoid of any real volume or energy. The intuitive percussion on ‘Skins’ and the melancholy chord changes on ‘The Lost Art of Conversation’ are the only bits that really jumped out at me, and even they held my attention with a loose grip. Honestly, where's the rock and roll? Where are the memorable hooks? Where are the dirty dubstep drops? 

I was kidding about the dubstep. No rock album needs that.

Granted, the transitions between each track are expertly smooth. It’s no easy task fitting accumulated paraphernalia together and making it all flow like one holistic piece. Sadly, what’s missing is the body in between these transitions to make it all worthwhile.