As a preface to this review, I would just like to say that I am a huge fan of Pink Floyd and always will be. However, Pink Floyd’s latest and final album “The Endless River” has succeeded at almost nothing, other than inducing me into a state of unbearable grief, followed shortly by an endless river of tears. These tears were shed for what I consider a failed opportunity at a proper farewell. A band as important and influential as Pink Floyd deserves a much more profound closing act than what has been delivered with this newest release. In fact, I have a hard time even calling this album a new release, which is the disappointing part. “The Endless River” is nothing more than a compilation of old tracks and unused material from their previous release, “The Division Bell.” This album is like the leftover scraps of a meal you didn’t like very much in the first place, but now that you have taken it out of the refrigerator after sitting there for a while — 20 years to be exact — it has lost even more of its flavor.
As difficult as it is to accept, this extremely underwhelming release did not come as a complete surprise. Pink Floyd has gone through many changes since their original formation in 1965. Since then, the only member who has been constant throughout the entirety of the band’s career is drummer Nick Mason. Additionally, Roger Waters, who is hailed as the lead catalyst for Pink Floyd’s massive success and credited as the main creative contributor to albums like “The Dark Side of the Moon” and “The Wall,” officially left the group in 1985. Therefore, Waters had no helping hand in the production of this album, nor “The Division Bell,” which most of the “The Endless River” is derived from. Additionally, “The Division Bell” was a mediocre release from the band, therefore it is only logical that an album put together from the missing pieces of a decent album at best would turn out to be less than spectacular.
With all that being said, “The Endless River” is not a complete trainwreck as I may have led you to believe. Despite this album being a major disappointment to me personally, and surely many other fans out there, this release still retains some of the positive elements that are distinctly Pink Floyd. This includes the consistent progressive and psychedelic rock style that has become almost synonymous with Pink Floyd. Everything from the long, sustained guitar riffs, the eerie and drawn-out synth notes and dubbed-in noises that range from footsteps to doors shutting are all present in this album and serve to create the overall reflective and thought-evoking mood that listeners have come to expect from the band.
Additionally, this album features beautiful, softly stricken piano chords that couple beautifully with the quick-paced Floydian guitar riffs. Songs like “Anisina” demonstrate this by providing a very tranquil and reflective sound through the implementation of the piano as well as soft, drawn-out notes that are soothing to the ear. This is directly contrasted with tracks like “Allons-y (1), which contains a much grittier rock-infused vibe along with some jazzy-sounding chords thrown into the mix. Furthermore, the song “Eyes To Pearls” features deep acoustic guitar chords that resonate heavily with the listener and create a very daunting mood. This track has a similar sound that can be experienced with other famous Pink Floyd songs such as “Goodbye Blue Sky” or “Mother.” There is undoubtedly a good variety of tracks contained within the album. However, this is nothing new for the band. This type of variety can be found in every other Pink Floyd album to a much greater extent. Every song retains elements that are without a doubt true to the band’s style, but nothing more.
Another noteworthy feature of this album is that it is entirely void of any lyrics aside from the final track, which comes as a major let-down considering this band has been known for producing well thought-out writing as well as social commentary. “The Endless River” is almost an entirely instrumental piece that begs for additional content. While other albums clearly had the intention of commenting on social issues and provoking listeners into reflective thought, “The Endless River” doesn’t seem to have much of an agenda or message hidden within its music.
In all honesty, I would have preferred that this album be released as additional content to their previous one instead of being labeled an entirely new release. That way listeners wouldn’t be tricked into believing Pink Floyd came out with an entirely new album that would serve as its goodbye gift to the world. All in all “The Endless River” is just another brick in the wall. However, settling for mediocrity in this particular case simply does not cut it whatsoever. A band as great as Pink Floyd definitely deserved a much better final release than what was given with “The Endless River.”
Rating: 2.5 stars