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Pink Floyd - The Division Bell CD (album) cover


Pink Floyd


Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.74 | 1941 ratings

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Una Laguna
5 stars This album seems to divide Pink Floyd's fanbase into two groups: those who like the album and those who don't. The detractors will say that the album is plodding and slow, that the lyrics are foggy and unclear, and that this album is unnecessary as it is very similar to early-'70s PF.

To some extent I agree with these points. The album certainly isn't in a hurry - most songs are fairly slow-paced. For a concept album, the lyrics aren't very clear - if PF were trying to make a point with this album I think I missed it. And yes, the album is very reminiscent of albums such as Obscured by Clouds and Meddle: this can probably be attributed to the fact that Wright is credited as writing music on many tracks, and most of this album was conceived from jam sessions. However, as you can probably tell from my rating, I think the pros easily outweigh the cons.

The album opens with the instrumental track Cluster One. The first couple of minutes are an audio sample given to the band by a geologist - I can't remember the specifics offhand, but in essence it is the sound of the Earth. This fades away into a very calm, mellow jam, starting off as a collection of sounds from keyboards and guitars, but gradually forming a tune of sorts. A slow start to the album, but any reasonable progger will know that speed is not necessary for good music. The second instrumental on the album, Marooned, features two tracks later. It has a much more coherent structure, based around one of Gilmour's finest guitar solos. These two tracks represent the band's ability to create deep, emotional instrumentals.

Many of the non-instrumental tracks follow the intro-singing-instrumental-singing-instrumental structure seen on Lapse, but, again, the actual musical content is much more varied. There are strong, louder tracks in the form of What Do You Want From Me and Take It Back, quieter; calmer songs like Poles Apart and Wearing the Inside Out, and other tracks in between.

What Do You Want From Me is one of the bluesier tracks on the album, with powerful vocals from Gilmour and solid guitar solos, though certainly not the finest on the album. The keyboard parts aren't to my personal tastes; however the song overall is very powerful. The loudest track on the album.

Poles Apart, along with Lost For Words, is one of the only tracks which prominently uses acoustic guitar. The lyrics deal with Syd and Waters, and are not particularly subtle - some of the weaker lyrics on the album. There is a slightly unusual instrumental break in the section, using what sounds like an audio sample of a fairground. The track ends with an emotional crescendo and one of the better guitar solos on the album

A Great Day for Freedom is one of the more emotional tracks on the album, with slow piano and a solid delivery of vocals, building up to a fine guitar solo.

One of my issues with A Momentary Lapse of Reason was that, though Gilmour's singing was good, they were not varied. Gilmour's singing on The Division Bell is much more varied, and Wright contributes vocals on one track, Wearing the Inside Out. Wearing the Inside Out is one of my favourite tracks from the album. The mellow intro features Dick Parry on saxophone, with Wright delivering some very deep lyrics. The song also features keyboard and guitar solos. One of the slowest and musically most diverse tracks on the album.

Take it Back is one of those songs which, almost compulsively, must be played loudly. This, along with Keep Talking, is the most energetic track on the album. The instrumental sections lose none of the momentum built up during the vocals, despite relatively mellow. An uplifting track.

Take it Back segues into Coming Back to Life, one of the best tracks on the album. Opening with one of Gilmour's most heartfelt solos and vocal deliveries, the song turns into an upbeat '80s-esque track. Inspiring stuff.

Keep Talking is another louder track, featuring audio samples of Stephen Hawking. This track makes heavy use of female backing vocals, though is probably Gilmour's weakest vocal performance on the album. This is compensated for by a good guitar solo and a great keyboard solo.

Lost For Words features some good guitar work from Gilmour; however the lyrics seem to me to be the most indiscreet on the album. Though not a bad track, this is definitely one of the weakest tracks on the album.

High Hopes is without a shadow of a doubt the highlight of the album. This song, like a few others on this album, is one great crescendo, starting with a very simply piano riff, which gradually builds up. The lyrics are very deep and soulful. After a few minutes we get a very tasty guitar solo, BUT! we have some more sing and piano, a climatic, epic rendition of the chorus (and it's already a pretty epic chorus anyway), and then BAM! One of the best guitar solos in Gilmour's career. Very powerful, very majestic and emotional, just plain awesome. Possibly rivalling the masterpiece that is Comfortably Numb's guitar solo. Hell, the entire song gives Comfortably Numb a run for its money! No questions asked, one of the best tracks to finish an album, ever.

I'm not sure there are any bad tracks: the songs seem very careful, calculated and thought-out. Lowlights vary from listen to listen - on my current listen What Do You Want From Me and Lost For Words are probably the two weakest tracks, but all the tracks have their strengths. For me this is one of PF's best albums, and one of the best albums, ever. This is what Pink Floyd is about: beautiful, emotional, deep music backed up by solid lyrics.

I'm sure some people will have avoided The Division Bell based on the lack of Waters. But if you enjoy PF's early-'70s albums, this is a definite must. And anybody who enjoys slow, contemplative soundscapes should check this out. It's. Just. AWESOME.

David Gilmour has said in interviews that he considers this PF's best album since Wish You Were Here. I wholeheartedly agree.

Una Laguna | 5/5 |


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