On November 7, 2014, Pink Floyd released what will likely be the last album the group ever puts on the shelves, The Endless River. The band has swapped out, fired, and made up with many individual members over its soon-to-be 50 year history. The Endless River is not a recollection or rehash of Pink Floyd’s greatest hits- but made up of reworked, tweaked, and improved music from recording sessions that occurred during the production of the album Division Bell, which was released in 1994.
The Endless River is a highly instrumental album, with the majority of its songs composed of nothing more than a solid, quality guitar-lead acoustic sound. Sadly, it’s not for those who like to sing along.
Most of the songs carry at least some presence of the time when their first versions were recorded. This is why some of the songs have an 80’s guitar twang in the background–notably on the closing track, “Louder than Words,” which is also one of the only songs on the whole album with a lead vocal track. It contains lyrics that carry a strange vagueness but reveal themselves at the end to be talking about the idea of the human condition. Perfectly tuned with the voices, backing guitars and a keyboard carry the song into excellence.
Nevertheless, the lyrics are open to interpretation. “This is for the generation that wants to put its headphones on, lie on a beanbag, or whatever, and get off on a piece of music for an extended period of time. You could say it’s not for the iTunes, downloading-individual-tracks generation,” said guitarist David Gilmour in an interview with Mojo, a British music magazine.
On the contrary, “Louder Than Words” is not the only song on the album with lyrics. The second track on the album, “It’s What We Do”, begins with a large voice that drowns out most of the instruments and immediately offends the ear. Its a shame, because the instrumental track sounded interesting and unique when I could hear it. This is quickly corrected in the third track, “Ebb and Flow”, in which leading guitars create an environment of peace around the listener, in a timespan of only two and a half minutes. Immediately afterwards, “Sum” paints another, more energetic picture for the listener, all without uttering a single word.
Endless River is a great album for those who enjoyed the bands work when they were in their prime. Everything from the instruments used to the lyrics sung (or unsung) feels like it could be something straight out of the late 80’s or early 90’s- making it an album fans should definitely go ahead and listen to. For those who don’t care for the sounds of The Division Bell or The Dark Side of the Moon, albums the group produced in their prime, it won’t make such an impression. And hey, rock’s not for everybody.