July 10, 2014
New Pink Floyd Album – Trending But Underwhelming?
When Polly Samson, wife of Pink Floyd’s singer and guitarist David Gilmour, casually announced on Twitter over the weekend, “Btw Pink Floyd album out in October is called ‘The Endless River,'” understandably the Internet went crazy, with the words trending in less time than it takes Gilmour to do a guitar solo. Actually, quite a lot less time. One wonders if the flippant “btw” at the start is a bit of a tongue-in-cheek, “actually I totally know something amazeballs which you are all going to wet your pants over,” or whether she genuinely thought this news is only an aside, who knows. But there may be more than Samson’s coyness or modesty justifying the understated nature of the announcement.
Certainly, any news about Pink Floyd is still significant. They are a band who have a consistent and devoted following of all ages, from those who remember the last album 20 years ago, or indeed those who remember the first in 1967, to those who have become fans of the band more recently. I suppose I myself would have been getting into Pink Floyd around the time of their last release, The Division Bell, in 1994, but only because that is the age that most people get into music. The Dark Side of the Moon and Wish You Were Here were more inspirational than The Division Bell itself. When they played at Live 8 in 2008, they earned a new generation of fans and reminded everybody why they are one of the greatest bands of all time.
But the most significant thing about that Live 8 performance was that it involved Roger Waters, the philosophical inspiration behind the band, the genius behind most of the famous concepts, not to mention a wonderful bass player… and slightly crappy vocalist. He also came up with the best of the band’s lyrics, even if it was David Gilmour who was able to deliver them with more polished vocals. For those who don’t know, David Gilmour and other members had carried on under the name Pink Floyd for two albums when Waters had walked out after working on The Final Cut in 1983, leaving a trail of hostility. Nobody ever thought that Gilmour and Waters would be seen on the same stage, “pigs might fly” was an appropriate Floyd reference, given the band’s use of huge, flying pigs as props at their shows, and so when they did come together, it caused one hell of a stir.
If they had been able to record a new album together, that really would have been something. But instead what we have from this new album, reported by Rolling Stone, is the sort-of-but-not-really Pink Floyd of the tail-end years, a bit like (but not so much like as to be insulting to the much more talented and likeable Dave Gilmour) how Axel Rose was able to carry on under the name Guns N’ Roses without Slash, wheezing his way onto stage, usually around an hour late and going through some karaoke versions of GN’R songs.
Not only is the new album, Endless River, without the man, in Roger Waters, that many consider is Pink Floyd, it is also based in no small part on bits that didn’t make it into Division Bell. This may be why, whilst Pink Floyd was trending, Twitter didn’t collapse and people didn’t suddenly start claiming to be the world’s greatest Floyd fans so as not to be missing out on the biggest news of the week. Why, indeed, the Telegraph described reaction as the “social networking equivalent of a mildly interested shrug.” But, that said, there will be some Pink Floyd-y type sounds I haven’t heard before, and some of Dave’s fantastic guitar and silky vocals (although lead vocals only confirmed on one track) to enjoy, and I liked his last solo album, On An Island, a lot. It is good news, if not as earth-shattering as it may at first have appeared.