Review Summary: One of the few instances in their career where Floyd truly were just average.
Following the good start Pink Floyd made with their debut "Piper At The Gates Of Dawn" the band were rightfully quite a happy band. For their sophomore album they tried to shift their sound primarily due to personnel changes. Primary song writer Syd Barrett was steadily growing more erratic and so David Gilmour was called in to serve as a second guitarist for when Syd could not manage it live. This was a change that would go on to become instrumental in their success when Syd was removed from the band in 1968.
The remainders of the band continued to write the music and record for the new release, entitled "A Saucerful Of Secrets". This second album had more progressive rock traits than their debut whilst still retaining the psychedelic rock nature of the debut album. Waters and Wright were the primary song writers for "Saucerful" and this definitely shows through the use of a much more experimental musical styling. In place of the indescribable sounds that dominated their first album "Saucerful" was the band's first real transition into the musical style they would use later on in their career.
Sadly on this release the sound is half-formed and dull. The almost-twelve minute title track stretches on for far too long with its multiple sections; whilst opener "Let There Be More Light" has too much of an experimental feel with the rumbling bass line that opens it and the use of both whispered vocals and very soft vocals. "Jugband Blues" is the sole Barrett song on this album and is mediocre and feels stale without enough variety to it. All this song is is a re-hash of their debut album's material without any of the creativity. It is structured into three distinct sections of which each is guaranteed to send the listener to sleep.
The problem with this release is not with the instrumentals nor the vocals. Gilmour controls his guitar very well with his signature use of vibratos frequently scattered across the songs he helped write. The organs and pianos once again have a lot of power to them and make for an interesting listen whilst the drumming is simple but entertaining. The bass work is a highlight as is found with the introduction of "Let There Be More Light" but also throughout the instrumental title track and is one of the only interesting points about that song. The vocals on this release are split between Waters and Wright and Gilmour gives one appearance on the vocals on Corporal Clegg and Barrett performs vocals to his own song for the album. The vocals are quite well done but are not particularly special with them feeling dull and bland.
The problem is that this album lacks any memorable songs. "Piper At The Gates Of Dawn" at least had songs that stuck out to the listener whereas this one is best heard as a full album or not at all as the songs on their own are genuinely tiring. By this point the band were merely experimenting with more of a progressive styling to the music; with quick changes in tempo and style; but it all feels very primitive. Unlike the masterful compositions that would be found on albums such as "Animals"; "Saucerful" feels relatively tame.
This is a decent follow-up to "Piper" but is not a particularly strong album. It has some good points such as the fantastic bass performance from Roger Waters but aside from that there isn't really anything to talk about with Pink Floyd's sophomore release.