1967, Pink Floyd released their psychedelic classic The Piper at the Gates of Dawn
. 1977, Pink Floyd released their raw, political, progressive rock masterpiece Animals
. 1987, Pink Floyd released... this. When Syd Barrett, original guitarist/singer/musical force, left the band due to mental problems in 1968, David Gilmour was brought in to continue Pink Floyd's uncertain future. But Gilmour didn't assume the role of lead songwriter/musical force. By 1973's Darkside of the Moon
, bassist Roger Waters had taken over all lyrical duties, and by Animals
, Pink Floyd was almost entirely shaped by Waters ambitions. This was the beginning of the band's implosion. While recording the Wall
, Waters had completely taken over; firing keyboardist Rick Wright (he stayed for the Wall tour, but not as a band mate, and ironically the non-band mates on tour were the ones who actually made money) and not even listing drummer Nick Mason on the credits. After one more Floyd (well it was basically a Waters solo album) album with David and Nick, Roger left the band. He attempted to stop David and Nick from bringing back the Floyd, but failed. As a result, we get A Momentary Lapse of Reason.
'A pretty fair forgery' is what Roger Waters deemed this album. Imitation? This record is a full blown rip-off of previous Floyd works in sometimes. Starting with the intro instrumental Signs of Life, which shamelessly mimics Shine on You Crazy Diamond's
intro. From the spacey synths, to the exactly same tone of the guitar bit, I come to realize that David Gilmour has sent Pink Floyd spiraling into devolution. With Roger Waters at least the band was achieving new sounds, but here Pink Floyd turned into the Rolling Stones. The Dogs of War is pretty much one of the worst things to ever grace these beautiful ears of mine :P through a Pink Floyd record. Even though David Gilmour was sick of Waters making Floyd a political, he goes ahead and makes an anti-war rant backed by a cheesy orchestra, attempting to make the song sound dramatic, but like a Michael Jackson music video, one is quick to find that it's a mask of tackiness to cover up the even tackier music. The most noticeable difference from previous Floyd works though, is that A Momentary Lapse of Reason's sound is defined almost entirely by the plague of horrible synth pop that surrounded it at the time.
Perhaps Gilmour was desperate to make this album popular, or he just really liked Duran Duran. Either way, this album is incredibly dated, the listener will be unable to escape the feeling that Pink Floyd is stuck in an era of leg warmers and Depeche Mode. The horrendous, typical 80s production of electronic drums, tastelessly overdubbed vocals, and sappy synthesizers has not helped A Momentary Lapse of Reason's aging. Terminal Frost is the other instrumental here, but instead of copying old Pink Floyd, it just takes form of a generic 80s tune. Even so, it's one of the better songs on this record. Learning to Fly, despite being radio feed, is another pretty good song, transmitting a mystical vibe while still crammed with extravagant backing music. The biggest problem of the song is David's monotonous singing, also heard on Sorrow. It gives the listener a glimpse of hope for this record before plummeting to The Dogs of War.
Another reason for A Momentary Lapse of Reason's poorness is the fact that this isn't even really Pink Floyd. Both Nick Mason and Richard Wright barely played on this album, Wright not even being an actual member yet for legal matters. But, unlike Roger Waters who took complete control (note: I'm not a Waters purist, The Final Cut
was also pretty lousy), David Gilmour brought in an array of songwriters and session musicians (over 15 of them!) So is it even a David Gilmour solo album? Well it might as well have been. The name Pink Floyd could've easily just been slapped on to sell more copies. Considering that David Gilmour's 1984 solo album About Face
bombed, and A Momentary Lapse of Reason reached #3 on both the US and UK charts, it could be true. Both are watered down and "radio friendly", but with Pink Floyd it becomes a radio friendly unit shifter.
But A Momentary Lapse of Reason isn't only a bunch of poppy songs, but just as bad, it has its fair share of filler. A New Machine parts 1 & 2 that enclose the jazzy instrumental Terminal Frost, are just roughly 2 minutes (combined) of David spewing out garbage lyrics with an over-produced voice, with no music. Yet Another Movie is a rather pointless song; it's okay for a while but goes nowhere for the most part. It transfers into Round and Round, who knows why they're separate songs, Round and Round is a just a short instrumental continuing roughly the same music as Yet Another Movie. Like a lot of this album, these two songs desperately need direction, instead of noodling around for a combined 7 minutes. The best song is definitely On the Turning Way. It's the only song on which Gilmour sings with such beauty heard on songs like Comfortably Numb
and Wish You Were Here
. The song is slow and acoustic driven but ends with an upbeat outro, featuring a great solo by Gilmour. The guitar solos are still top notch, but David's voice has gotten considerably worse on a lot songs.
In the end, Pink Floyd always worked better as a whole. Even on Animals, where Roger had written mostly everything, the band still played together excellently. A Momentary Lapse of Reason, like its predecessor The Final Cut
, was shaped by a single member. But this is the only Pink Floyd album I would never recommend to anyone. I've tried and tried to give this album more listens, but the majority of the tracks are just awful. Pink Floyd improved a bit though with 1994's the Division Bell
. All three members worked together, the production wasn't haunted by mainstream 80s pop, and overall just sounded more like a Pink Floyd album rather than a solo project. Other than On the Turning Way, every other track is bland, forgettable, dreadful, or a rip-off of previous stuff.
A Momentary Lapse of Reason--------> 1.5 stars