After 20 years of no new music, Pink Floyd has released their last album, “The Endless River,” and it sounds like typical Floyd. The album has been dedicated to the memory of Richard Wright, the band’s keyboardist who died of cancer in 2007.
Although “The Endless River” sounds very much like their 1994 album, “The Division Bell,” the album features motifs and sounds that resemble their previous albums, yet they keep the music fresh. It’s invigorating to see Floyd make good new music after a 20-year hiatus.
My biggest qualm with “The Endless River” is that it is mostly instrumental. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good instrumental, but as I listened to the tunes, I was waiting for David Gilmour’s vocals to shine through like the hero emerging from the fog.
The first track, “Things Left Unsaid,” opens like the trailer music to a space epic, and then a minute into the track, it feels like you are cast on a boat lost at sea, and you have perfect tranquility as your friend. Wright’s keyboard work on this tune is solid and sets the mood for the following songs.
The album really takes off with the track “Sum.” Wright’s keyboard riffs are trance inducing. As you become entranced, Gilmour grabs you from your zone with his distorted slide guitar and throws you into a head-bobbing groove as Nick Mason’s thunderous drums pound away. “Sum” bleeds into “Skins,” which is Mason’s major contribution to the album. It’s about a two and a half minute drum solo with various dissonant sounds in the background.
The album’s closing track “Louder Than Words” sounds like classic Floyd. It is the only song on the album to feature a lead vocal by Gilmour, with the lyrics written by his him and his wife. The song features unexpected chord changes and pleasantly strange chord progressions that are synonymous with their music. Gilmour’s Stratocaster sounds smooth as ever and reminds me of a “Comfortably Numb” tone.
The album took about a year to record and was compiled from old tapes of the three Floyd members playing together during the 1993-‘94 sessions.
Even though I wasn’t around during Floyd’s heyday, I have waited a long time for this. They won’t make any more music since Wright died in 2007. There won’t be a tour to promote this album, according to Gilmour.
Roger Waters, founding member and bassist, is also not on the album, and hasn’t been a member of Floyd since his departure in 1985.
Syd Barret, the founding member, also will not be on the album because he died of health complications due to pancreatic cancer and type-two diabetes in 2006.
I was raised on the prog rock masters growing up. To this day, their music speaks to me like no other music ever has, so I’m sad to see Pink Floyd call it quits after a nearly 50-year career. But I am happy to see that after all these years, the group still has the chops to write groovy tunes. I hope this album brings a new generation of Floyd fans.