The Endless River
The first Pink Floyd album in 20 years – and the final Pink Floyd album, the band has already announced this – well, band, it’s just Gilmour and Mason now, Roger Waters was at pains to confirm his (continued) non-involvement in what is the most pre-ordered album in Amazon history, the new and final Pink Floyd album, The Endless River.
That old adage “you can’t polish a turd” – Stanley Kubrick disagreed. He said you could in fact do that. If you froze it. By touching up ideas that were (best) left on ice during the recording of the Floyd’s now penultimate studio album, The Division Bell, they’ve gone ahead and proved Kubrick wrong.
Oh yes, you get searing stoner guitar, the mild histrionics that captivated – and It’s What We Do feels like a reminder of some of Wish You Were Here’s moments, a little of the Dark Side instrumental flavour pops up too, those slow-loping drums and it could almost – for a song or two – seem promising. Almost. But 17 of The Endless River’s 18 tracks are instrumental. So it starts to feel very samey very quickly – more so than on any other Floyd record.
Yes, if you’re a lifer you might want to scrub your fanclub badge – possibly with this album as the perfect soundtrack to that activity – and tell the world or whoever will listen that this is gentle and subtle and understated and a fitting swansong.
But that’s horseshit – this very quickly becomes dull, repetitive, boring, repetitive, slow, repetitive and sounds like music for a manicurist with a soft bogan streak. Oh, and did I mention that it’s all rather repetitive? Mostly it sounds like exactly what it is – The Division Bell’s offcuts, the crackling that was cut and never salted, trimmed as fat and left to stay that way. Now a quick boil-up as repair job, a bit of PR to sell it as the lovely tribute Rick Wright never quite got. Swansong or last minute cash-grab? And do fans even give a shit if it’s either…
You can enjoy the slight surges from Gilmour’s guitar – if you have before. You can even bask if you like, Floyd fans are so good at swallowing the mediocre to satiate. (I say this as a lifer, card-carrying fan). But this is only an embarrassing finale – a meander through the leftovers. Nothing more. Often so much less.
When the one vocal track arrives, the album starts to feel like a 50-minute prelude to a song. And that song…is fucking atrocious. “This thing that we do…is louder than words”. We know that – because we’ve endured three quarters of an hour of instrumental music. And all just to arrive at some of Pink Floyd’s worst ever lyrics (which is really saying something – unlike the band).
Now watch as it restores people’s faith in the music industry, in the selling of records – and has 60 year-olds scrubbing up their best two-tone Canadian tuxedo to bore at the BBQ with stories of how Pink Floyd really are the ultimate, so polished and then the other people, the entirely other class of Floyd fan, the ones with Dark Side of The Moon wall-hangings still in place, proudly sucking back on the bong and going, “see, told you. This shit’ll just never date”.