The Endless River
Pink Floyd’s most recent and definitely final album is no more than slightly embellished outtakes from their last effort, and it lacks its narrative and direction due to that. It often feels too hastily put together, or without any sort of real theme. Gilmour’s overly dramatic guitar and Mason’s almost pointless percussion in most of the songs create a sense of musical apathy. But when Wright is the focus, the album starts to feel like a Pink Floyd record. While the tracks he appears alone on are rarely longer than a couple of minutes, they have a nostalgic feel to them that the others lack, and unlike the Gilmour-only tracks, aren’t overly produced and give the album its tribute-like feel.
The real gems on the record though are ‘Sum’ and ‘Skins’. Appearing on the first half, they feel like actual Pink Floyd tracks, and are the only ones where all three members are credited. A nod to their jam-heavy pre-Dark Side era, the tracks take the best parts of Wright, Mason and Gilmour and stitch them together into a psychedelic jam session reminiscent of Saucerful of Secrets and ‘Echoes’. The brooding guitar, impactful percussion and clever, sustaining piano and organ leave veteran Floyd fans with what they came for; a proper, old school, Pink Floyd sound.
Other highlights include a cameo from Stephen Hawking on ‘Talkin’ Hawkin’, where once again Wright is allowed to shine and Gilmour finally hits the mark with his guitar in what is an epilogue to ‘Keep Talking’ from The Division Bell.
That’s what The Endless River really is – an extension and an echo of a band that is saying goodbye for the final time. It’s a record for the Pink Floyd fan, not for the charts, and a record that if released 40 years ago, would have flopped. For some reason though, its underwhelming nature feels spot on. Not a triumph, but certainly an album for the ages.