Review Summary: Though a pleasant listen, The Endless River contains none of the depth that characterised the albums it supposedly pays tribute to.
As arguably the most revered band of all time, Pink Floyd’s reputation precedes them to such a degree that reactions to The Endless River
are essentially predetermined. On one hand you have legions of nostalgic fans ready to prematurely declare the album as a masterpiece, while those disillusioned by the band’s decline are sure to write it off as a failure when it inevitably falls short of the mark set by their efforts in the 1970s. The release of a Pink Floyd album in 2014 is not the momentous occasion that the remaining members may have envisioned it to be, and instead calls their motives into question, let alone their ability to execute anything of the same calibre as past endeavours. Swan song or not, The Endless River
does little in the way of providing closure for a fan base that was already comfortably sated.
Born from the ashes of The Division Bell
sessions, The Endless River
seems to have been created with a retrospective outlook, intended as a stripped-down synopsis of Pink Floyd’s various incarnations. In the absence of Waters and the late Richard Wright, the album is a largely instrumental affair, comprised of ethereal arrangements that are occasionally complimented by backing vocals courtesy of both Gilmour and recordings of Wright himself. There are noticeable throwbacks to earlier material, with songs like “It’s What We Do” bearing a strong resemblance to portions of “Shine on You Crazy Diamond”, while the more percussive “Allons-Y” two-parter would be in good company on an album like The Wall
. Ample synth lines and extended guitar leads gently trickle in and out of view, drifting freely and lending the album a sense of ambience while retaining that distinct Floydian
sound. However, while artistically succinct, the album is neither peripheral enough to function as ambient, nor climactic enough to function as prog, and what we’re left with is an album that is – to sum it up in one word – nice. Not emotive or engaging, just nice
. The overarching themes that made Floyd of old so poignant are nowhere to be found, as one unrelated passage leads into another, failing to capitalise on any potential build-ups. Closing with the vocally driven “Louder Than Words”, The Endless River
finishes on an uncharacteristically passive note, and your lasting impression is not one of awe, but indifference.
Such a mixed reception is as much a consequence of hype as it due to the album’s content; preconceived notions of greatness rarely come to fruition, anyway. Now, we’re faced with the curious question of how The Endless River
will be remembered in years to come. A genuine attempt at encompassing the spirit of Floyd, or a thinly-veiled cash-grab, pieced together from the offcuts of a more purposeful piece of work?