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Pink Floyd - The Endless River CD (album) cover


Pink Floyd


Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.27 | 949 ratings

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1 stars In 2014, Pink Floyd announced The Endless River, composed primarily of instrumental outtakes and experiments recorded during the Division Bell sessions. A small number of additions were made in 2013 to complete the album.

When this was announced, I set my expectations low. Gilmour had proven himself to be an inconsistent songwriter, and the prospect of something stitched together from leftover bits did not leave me optimistic.  

My initial reaction to The Endless River was, "Wow, this is surprisingly not-shitty!" I then proceeded to not listen to it again until writing this essay six years later. That should tell you all you really need to know. It's passable instrumental space rock in small doses, but nothing makes this record noteworthy or worth revisiting. The ungainly length of this record is a hindrance, and it truly lives up to the endlessness promised in its name.

"Things Left Unsaid" is emblematic of many of the sins of this era of Pink Floyd. A dull synth drone acts as the backdrop to a slow, languid guitar line for four-and-a-half minutes. It's "Cluster One" trying to be the closing moments of "Shine on You Crazy Diamond". "It's What We Do" is an improvement, insofar as it has a pulse. This again feels like a weak, sterile attempt to recreate moments off "Shine on You Crazy Diamond". With this being an instrumental album, Roger Waters's presence isn't missed. He was never a standout bassist, as I've mentioned previously, and his playing almost always bled into the background as Wright and Gilmour took the lead. This album's flaccid opening movement closes with the brief "Ebb and Flow", which is all ebb and no flow.

"Sum" is the first place where the album does anything interesting. Wright's organ stutters in a way which evokes many of Floyd's best songs, including "Astronomy Domine". It's too long and lacks direction, but I'll take aimless jamming over aimless airiness. "Skins" is a callback to early cuts like "A Saucerful of Secrets" and "Up the Khyber" with Nick Mason's distinct, tom-heavy drumming style taking the lead. When a drum solo is the strongest cut on an album so far, that's usually not a good sign. "Anisina" is too sweet, and it feels like generic background music to be used in a heartwarming scene on a made-for-TV movie. I also hate the tone of the saxophone on this song.

Another brief, ambient piece?"The Lost Art of Conversation"?doesn't do much beyond occupy two minutes of time, but "On Noodle Street" is one of the better tracks on The Endless River. It's not particularly good in absolute terms, mind you, but enough happens on this brief cut to keep me interested. It's mellow and jazzy, but my ultimate assessment is simply "inoffensive."

"Night Light" harbors some darker, minor-key tones, and "Allons-y" finally gets something going with its bouncing rhythm and a guitar line that could have been one of the better songs on The Wall. "Autumn '68" is a pointless mini-fugue which leads back into the second half of "Allons-y". "Talkin' Hawkin'" features more vocal snippets from Stephen Hawking, and it's nice that this song has enough percussion to maintain an identifiable beat.

"Calling", which opens side 4 of this album, is an interesting collection of moody synthesizers. This one could have been workshopped into something better, but there are nuggets of good ideas here. "Eyes to Pearls" stays in the same neighborhood but with a bit more muscle, and "Surfacing" is one of the rare cuts to feel like a real song.

The one song with vocals?"Louder Than Words"?closes out The Endless River. It's a pretty typical Gilmour-era ballad. Soulful background singers in the chorus feel like a crutch, and the instrumentation doesn't do much to grab the listener. Giving credit where credit is due, the closing guitar solo is quite good.

Looking on this record with relatively fresh eyes, I find its immense bloat and frequent aimlessness hobble any other redeeming qualities. It isn't actively bad in most cases, but it's frequently downright anodyne. Oftentimes, boring is worse than bad. Ummagumma's studio disc is an ungodly, unfocused morass, but they at least were trying weird and different things. The Endless River is endlessly safe. It was a disappointing, unnecessary way for Pink Floyd to wrap up their career.

Review originally posted here:

TheEliteExtremophile | 1/5 |


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