Pink Floyd’s final album pales next to Dark Side

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Eric Novak

 

Few bands in the history of popular music have experienced as much fame and artistic innovation as Pink Floyd. Their 1973 album Dark Side Of the Moon catapulted them to international stardom and cemented their status as a timeless rock group.

With bassist Roger Waters’ departure from the group following the remarkably awful The Final Cut, the remaining three members of the band soldiered on, releasing a few mediocre solo albums, ending with The Division Bell in 1994.

Since then, Pink Floyd has been relatively inactive. Keyboardist Richard Wright’s death in 2008 seemed to confirm the suspicion that the band would not be releasing any material ever again, as only 50 percent of the original group remained.

Suddenly, in July, it was announced that Pink Floyd would be releasing The Endless River, a new studio album culled from material recorded by the band when Wright was still alive, following The Division Bell sessions. Revealed by the band as the true end of Pink Floyd, this album marks the conclusion of one of the most innovative bands in history.

With such a huge statement tied to it, The Endless River should be a monumental album. Instead, what we get are a collection of mostly instrumental, ambient tracks that feel more like an album of studio outtakes than a cohesive statement. It would make sense if it were marketed that way, but The Endless River has been promoted as a “studio album.”

As an album, though, it disappoints on a huge level. Most of the tracks on the album exist as a showcase for David Gilmour’s spacey guitar solos, which, as always, are good, but as the album goes through its staggering 21 tracks, it begins to get dreary. Occasionally, Richard Wright gets a chance to shine, like on the expansive “Autumn ’68,” which is almost completely a pipe organ solo—something we haven’t heard from the band before.

In spite of a few good tracks here and there, most of the album falls prey to an over-polished, cheesy sound. “Anisina” is one of the biggest culprits of this. It starts out with an incredibly corny chord progression, and just when it doesn’t seem as it can get any worse, a saxophone comes into the sonic landscape, bleating like Kenny G lost.

At this point, I simply rolled my eyes. Luckily, it doesn’t get much worse throughout the course of the album, but no tracks stand out in a way that would have warranted anything more than an outtakes compilation. Later in the album, David Gilmour finally sings on the track “Louder Than Words,” which sounds like the song to the ending credits of a really “gritty” Lifetime movie.

The album as a whole just isn’t much to write home about. While being generally cohesive in sound, too many of the tracks sound the same, with very similar-sounding grooves and too many Gilmour solos, which all end up blending together.

The Endless River is just not an inspired album. At an hour and five minutes, it seems to go on forever, ending with a generic hard rock-driven track titled “Nervana.” Coming from a band with masterworks such as Dark Side Of the Moon and Wish You Were Here, The Endless River is less satisfying than a measly footnote in an otherwise largely successful and satisfying career.