Pink Floyd
The Division Bell


4.5
superb

Review

by Rowan5215 USER (18 Reviews)
October 11th, 2013 | 504 replies | 10,733 views


Release Date: 1994 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Can you see your days blighted by darkness?/Is it true you beat your fists on the floor?

21 of 21 thought this review was well written

Despite - or perhaps because of - Pink Floyd's immense success in the 1970's with a three-album-strong string of classic albums, latter-day material from the band was, and still is, met with a more lukewarm reception from audiences. Reception towards the band's output soured with 1983's The Final Cut, ostensibly a Roger Waters solo album brimming with raw emotion, Waters' distinctive wavering vocals and, of course, his trademark biting sarcasm. With Waters being ousted from the band not long after, 1987's A Momentary Lapse of Reason was instead by and large a David Gilmour affair. Despite Gilmour's beautiful vocals and noticeable improvement in the lyrical department (especially considering he hadn't penned lyrics to a Pink Floyd song since 1972), AMLOR was even more of a disappointment to Pink Floyd fans than the Final Cut, with common complaints being the heavier emphasis on radio-friendly material and the lack of the raw emotion that Waters used to bring to the band. Despite both albums having come to be thought of as somewhat underrated in recent years (and deservedly so), at the time fans and critics alike were geared to hate what they assumed would be another disappointment in The Division Bell. Instead, what we have here is an unexpected change in the Pink Floyd style, and the perfect album with which to cap off their distinguished careers.

Put simply, the Division Bell is moving. It doesn't quite have the same untouchable level of emotive Gilmour solo-ing as previous Pink Floyd efforts, and nor does it have the unadulterated emotion of Roger Waters' vocals and lyrics. But what it does have is a tangible atmosphere of bittersweet nostalgia that seems to sum up the band's career and lives to a T. At its worst (a certain "Keep Talking") The Division Bell gives us a half-baked and shoddy attempt at catchy radio rock; but at its best ("Wearing the Inside Out", "Coming Back to Life", "Lost for Words" and "High Hopes") the album conjures powerful and, more importantly, genuine feelings of sadness, reminiscence, nostalgia, take your pick.

Take, for example, "Poles Apart". Although Gilmour would never admit it, the Division Bell has some undeniable references (to put it very lightly) towards the band's past and a certain Roger Waters. "Poles Apart" effortlessly moves from a simply written and moving tribute to the band's absentee frontman Syd Barrett ("Why did we tell you that/You were always the golden boy then/and that you'd never lose that light in your eyes?") to a bitter snipe at Waters. Appropriately beginning with the words "Hey you", the verse goes on to say "did you ever realise what you'd become?/and did you see that it wasn't only me you were running from?/did you know all the time but it never bothered you anyway?/leading the blind while I stared out the steel in your eyes?" This is definitely not the only verse inspired by Waters to appear on the album, but is undoubtedly the most noticeable.

However, to suggest that the Division Bell only displays negative emotions would be entirely misguided. Having mentioned Syd Barrett earlier, it would not be too far-fetched to suggest that the majority of the album is indirectly inspired either positively by Barrett or negatively by Waters. They aren't the only subjects of the album, of course, but they do seem to be reference points or catalysts from which Gilmour goes on to reminiscence about his childhood. At this point it's hard not to point out just how far Gilmour progressed as a lyricist from the early Pink Floyd days (take "the Narrow Way" as an example) to the Division Bell; at some points on the album ("Lost for Words" and "High Hopes" being the absolute best) Gilmour's lyrics can just about hold their own against Waters'. Just look at the lyrics to "Lost for Words", incidentally the most understated, simplistic and yet beautiful track on the record; "Can you see your days blighted by darkness?/Is it true you beat your fists on the floor?/Stuck in a world of isolation/while the ivy grows over the door/so I open my door to my enemies/and I ask, could we wipe the slate clean?/but they tell me to please go and *** myself/you know, you just can't win".

So, we've established that from a lyrical and emotional standpoint, the Division Bell is virtually flawless. However, it is not a perfect album, and it is from a technical perspective that it occasionally falls short. Gilmour's distinctive solos were undoubtedly a high point and trademark of the classic Floyd albums, but on the Division Bell virtually every song is unnecessarily extended by solos that only once (in "High Hopes") reach his previous standard. In addition, the radio rock leanings that pervaded throughout A Momentary Lapse of Reason return at some points to drag down certain songs, most notably the frighteningly U2-esque "Take it Back" and the aforementioned clunker "Keep Talking". Having said that however, there are songs on the Division Bell that can easily stand up to the best of Floyd's classic material, such as the aforementioned album highlight "Lost for Words". Other songs that deserve mention in this regard include: "Wearing the Inside Out", a dark, atmospheric piece that has the distinction of being the first song since 1973 to feature the melancholic vocals of keyboardist Richard Wright; "Coming Back to Life", ostensibly a Gilmour solo piece that features some of his best vocals and lyrics to date; and of course the obligatory epic album closer "High Hopes". Despite the Division Bell's lukewarm reception, "High Hopes" has gone down amongst fans as one of the best songs in Pink Floyd's catalogue; from the haunting tolling bell/piano combination that opens the song to the way the final line links in so perfectly with Syd Barrett's "See Emily Play" ("the endless river, forever and ever...") "High Hopes" is not only a perfect album closer, but the perfect song with which to end the best of careers.

In summary, the Division Bell may not be perfect (seriously, "Keep Talking" could just not exist) and it may be missing a few of the vital elements that made the Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You Were Here and Animals so flawless. But it makes up for all of that with the sheer power of its bittersweet reminiscences. And while it may not be perfect, it's as damn near as anyone could hope to get while still missing a primary band member. It may not be held in brilliantly high regard but that doesn't make it anything less than what it is; a testament to better times and happier places. "The grass was greener/the light was brighter/the taste was sweeter/the nights of wonder..."



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Rowan5215
October 11th 2013



24415 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

sup

FiveLeavesLeft
Staff Reviewer
October 11th 2013



9723 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

sup [2]

avonbarksdale221
October 11th 2013



8073 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Fuck yeah dude pos

Rowan5215
October 11th 2013



24415 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks dude as I said this is pretty personal for me. The part I quoted in the summary is one of my favourite music moments ever

SCREAM!
October 11th 2013



9979 Comments


Nice review man

Want to check this out but it almost feels like I should save it until after I've heard everything in their discog

Digging: Agalloch - The Serpent and the Sphere

Rowan5215
October 11th 2013



24415 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks man, yeah that's probably a good idea, go chronologically. What Floyd have you heard?

SCREAM!
October 11th 2013



9979 Comments


Meddle, Dark Side, Animals, WYWH, The Wall, Atom Heart Mother and UmmaGumma

Only one I wasn't all that into is Umma

SCREAM!
October 11th 2013



9979 Comments


Oh right and I've heard Saucerful

Rowan5215
October 11th 2013



24415 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Ummagumma is the worst of those, definitely, More is the worst overall though imo
Piper is definitely a good one to check next, especially if you liked Saucerful, otherwise I'd say Obscured by Clouds (really really underrated album that often gets ignored because it was in between Meddle and Darkside) or the Final Cut (really hard to get into but totally worth it).

Glokta
October 11th 2013



210 Comments


Very good review, so good I stopped listening to Hatful of Hollow to pos it Not listened to this album yet - heard it's very good from most of my mates and my dad - so gonna' check it out much faster than I would have done without this review.

The sections about Gilmours lyrics peaked my interest more than aNYTHING AS I'VE ALWAYS BEEN INTrigued 2 hear his version of the stories/images pf portray as a band

FiveLeavesLeft
Staff Reviewer
October 11th 2013



9723 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Great review of an underrated album :] pos

avonbarksdale221
October 11th 2013



8073 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Your review has definitely inspired me to check this out again.
Only critique I'd make is the use of the word perfect twice in one sentence at the start of the concluding paragraph, doesn't read well. Other than that, great stuff :]

SCREAM!
October 11th 2013



9979 Comments


@Rowan Yeah I was planning on doing Piper next and filling in the missing links chronologically from there. They're one of those bands I try to get on vinyl whenever I have a chance

FiveLeavesLeft
Staff Reviewer
October 11th 2013



9723 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

High Hopes is a fucking masterpiece

Rowan5215
October 11th 2013



24415 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

@SCREAM! Fair enough dude yeah Piper is a masterpiece
@Necro fuck yeah it is

menawati
Contributing Reviewer
October 11th 2013



15800 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

High Hopes is beautiful but I've always found the rest of the album very average.
Nice review though it makes me want to have another listen. Pos.

Digging: Synaesthesia (UK) - Synaesthesia

tommygun
October 11th 2013



23618 Comments


pos will read when my hangover fucks off

Digging: Obliteration - Black Death Horizon

demigod!
October 11th 2013



43891 Comments


of course rowan 4.5s this

Digging: Black Flag - My War

Rowan5215
October 11th 2013



24415 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

@menawati thanks, hopefully you'll change your mind
@tommy ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

Rowan5215
October 11th 2013



24415 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

what is that supposed to mean demi just say it



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