Yesterday, I popped into Rough Trade West record store to purchase the new Pink Floyd album. That isn’t something I expected to say in my lifetime, but 20 years after their 14th album The Division Bell, one final album has been added to the band’s canon: The Endless River. Although this laddie does not think of himself as a professional music critic, I like to think I know my Floyd so here is a quick take on their new release.
The Endless River is not on a par, and nor should it be, with the following albums: Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You Were Here, The Wall, The Division Bell or anything else Pink Floyd have released. Firstly because it is nearly all instrumental, secondly because of drawn out incubation. Brought together from incomplete sessions in 1993, the band’s two remaining members reformed last year to compile just under an hours' worth of new music. By polishing off the sessions with some modern production, The Endless River emerges as timeless release, instantly recognizable as a very Floydian.
Listening to the album on double vinyl captures the individual nature of the four sections. In order of preference, side three is the strongest — containing the most melodic and memorable parts, including the Royal Albert Hall’s pipe organ. Side two is eerily reminiscent of the band’s mid-70s instrumental passages while the fourth side is notable for the presence of ‘Louder Than Words’, the only track nearing a ‘song’. Most critics have labeled this as the album’s highlight. Oddly, I found it doesn’t particularly fit with the rest, yet adds an understated comforting finale to the band’s recording career.
Detractors have found plenty to dislike — it is not a hip album, sorry NME — but The Endless River is fine piece of work. A handful of listens in and I have found little that does not tick the boxes of a Pink Floyd record. It will never be lauded as the band’s strongest work; it's a footnote in a celebrated career. But such a spectacular career deserves this gratifying conclusion.