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Pink Floyd - The Division Bell CD (album) cover

THE DIVISION BELL

Pink Floyd

 

Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.72 | 1374 ratings

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russellk
Prog Reviewer
2 stars PINK FLOYD's final studio album is filled with FLOYD-like sounds but ultimately doesn't quite pass the test of time. It really is an album too far.

Though the three remaining band members co-operated on this album, to the extent that RICK WRIGHT was accepted back as a full band member, wrote material and even gets lead vocal duties, this is still largely a DAVID GILMOUR effort. As such, it features a great deal of his lazy guitar work, and I've never been more bored with it. Here's the reason why. When you examine his most famous solos, they are not only excellently written, they are painstakingly prepared for - that is, the song builds up to them - but also the backing is significant and powerful. Would the solo at the end of 'Comfortably Numb' be so highly regarded without the powerful chord sequence? Or the one at the end of 'Pigs' without the wonderful bass runs? 'Time' and 'Money' without the driving beat? In fact, the rhythm section is largely ignored in the composition of these songs. The result is that there is no real dynamic to them. They go nowhere.

The only conclusion that can be drawn is PINK FLOYD miss ROGER WATERS as much for his driving bass as they do for his driving personality, and this album is compelling evidence of it.

'Cluster One' is perhaps the album's highlight, along with the closing track. How immensely frustrating to have a pleasant, at points majestic, opener that builds tension only for it to be immediately dissipated by a cumbersome, lead-footed Jurassic whine of a track as 'What Do You Want From Me'. The emotions are forced, the topic - the misunderstanding engendered by a lack of communication - old hat and not particularly well conceived. And as we drag our way from one plodding track to the next, we begin to suspect that dear, tolerant DAVID is actually having a go at ROGER, ten years after the event. You know, I'd hoped he'd have a little more to say. Here's the rub: a band that offers otherworldly soundscapes and soaring guitar work ought to have something of more importance to say than a rehash of a decade-old spat between two spoiled brats.

'Poles Apart' goes on and on, eventually trickling to a halt, to be replaced by 'Marooned', the most undeserving recipient of a Grammy I've ever heard. GILMOUR makes noises on his guitar for a while, and that's about it. Seagulls on the shore and all that. I find it unconvincing. Compare this mush to any FLOYD instrumental you care to name. 'A Great Day For Freedom' raises the stakes a little, and the inevitable guitar solo is almost earned. The only worthy track apart from the opener on the first half of the record is WRIGHT's 'Wearing The Inside Out', with it's call and response chorus. But even WRIGHT sounds tired. There's a couple more songs of dubious merit before our ears are warmed by 'Keep Talking', which has enough oomph to qualify as a genuine FLOYD number. Another indirect stab at WATERS follows, then the album finishes with the excellent 'High Hopes', the only song that actually goes anywhere. The 1970's FLOYD would have made a masterpiece of this song, and even the 1990's lads don't do too bad a job.

In the end, this is an album every PINK FLOYD fan already owns, and one that can be safely ignored by everyone else.

russellk | 2/5 |

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