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Pink Floyd - The Division Bell CD (album) cover

THE DIVISION BELL

Pink Floyd

 

Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.74 | 2286 ratings

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theCoagulater
2 stars What I think most people don't realize about this album is that it's actually a concept album, about a breakup. A dreadful breakup between Roger Gilmour. Throughout the entire album, Gilmie tells us about the stress and despair of love being taken so for granted. And having such a beautiful, romantic partnership break apart. It's quite heartbreaking. Even though the context is incredibly depressing, David and his new boyfriend Rick try to give us redemption via incredibly annoyingly bad lyrics and tiring vocals.

Cluster One starts this one much the same way Signs Of Life started A Momentary Lapse of Reason almost a decade prior. It's a spacey delicate soundscape with really inviting piano and effects. This is the sort of thing you'd hear in an observatory. It gives the album a very Pink Floyd introduction. Must've been refreshing hearing this back when this album came out, after so many years of no new authentic Pink Floyd material. This track is also sort of a precursor to The Endless River, with its wide cold atmosphere and engaging mellowness. It doesn't do anything better or worse than Signs Of Life, both of them nail the vibes they're going for. Though I do prefer the more Earthy sound of Signs Of Life.

What Do You Want From Me is the first, and not the last, track to address Gilme's aching heart after he lost Roger. Not that Roger's dead, but I imagine Gilmie would say "he's dead to me" or some other gay shit like that when talking about Roger around this time. It starts with this pseudo-funky disco beat until Gilmour reminds you he can play guitar which changes the entire mood of the track on a dime. The lyrics here are dreadfully uninspired, and it sounds like something a frustrated child would write for his music teacher. You can guess the entire message of the song from the title. His vocals sound exactly like what he looks like, which is not very good. The entire track is covered in a layer of this insanely cheesy guitar to match the insanely cheesy lyrics, which only really serves the purpose of showcasing his musicianship. It does end fairly quickly though, so you notice how bad it is when you put it under a microscope, which happens to be exactly what I'm doing.

Poles Apart, the next track up, features pretty nice guitar parts. They're soft and a little bittersweet, nothing much, but much better than what we got on the previous track. The lyrics still retain the cheese and are still about Roger and how much of a meanie he is. The track has enough neat musical ideas to keep it well within Pink Floyd standards. As well as some pretty cool noodling by Richard Wright which does a great job of reinforcing the sound introduced with Cluster One.

Marooned is probably my favorite off this album. A superb track where Wright's soundscape and Gilmour's guitar fiddling do this amazing fusion dance. As the song continues it gets more grounded and little harder, so even though there's not a lot moving it creates a great sense of progression. And it got none of those pesky lyrics either, just music, and good music at that.

A Great Day For Freedom is the first track on this album that's neither an instrumental nor about Roger, probably. The lyrics are about a love falling apart after the fall of the Berlin wall, but I bet Gilmour did intend for these lyrics to be about Roger in one way or another. It has a deeper sound which continues throughout the rest of the album. The dynamics are also very engaging and give it a fuller sound. The lyrics have lost a good portion of the cheese from the other three tracks, and the vocals sound less out of place.

Wearing The Inside Out is Wright's only solely written track on the album. Following the rest of his work here, it's pretty atmospheric. The energy of this track fits Rick's voice too, it's dusty, thoughtful, and despairing. I love the backing vocals when they're talking on their own and separated from what the main vocals are saying, it forces you to almost think double about what's being said.

Take It Back is a love song (gasp) but also kinda not really. I feel like it's just another one about Roger, but gender- swapped to make it a well-performing single. It's a nice tune, got a nice rhythm, lyrics are fine. There's not a lot to say here other than a good Pink Floyd-flavored 90s pop song. Also Gilme spies on Rog? What the fuck Gilme?!?! NOT cool.

Coming Back To Life is yet another song directed to Rog. It's about letting go of the past and looking forward. While the lyrics are dreadfully hypocritical the rest of the song is pretty good. Good solos, a good atmosphere, and the cowbells somehow make this song so much better than it would've been without it. Weird for a song like this to be improved so much by cowbells, but it works, so there ain't no need for complaining about it.

Keep Talking is a song about how wittle Wog communicated his wittle feerings to Gilmour, and how tat made wittle Gilme saaad. The lyrics are so throwaway, they should've just tweaked the music a little bit and made this an instrumental while retaining the robot voice. The Animalsesque guitar squeaking serves no real purpose but it is funky, the keyboards are great, and the robot voice is pretty cool. The entire song goes fast and bops, so the lyrics are kinda made up for. But it'd be a lot better with good lyrics, this entire album would be.

Lost For Words is a more on-the-nose song about forgiving enemies, which still makes absolutely no sense on this album. Because all Gilmour is doing on this record is holding gripes against Roger. But again, this is a great song otherwise. The acoustic guitar is refreshing, the sample is cool, and the "go fuck myself" line is hilarious. I laughed so fucking hard the first time I heard that, Gilmour truly is a class-A songwriter.

High Hopes sets the expectations high before the song even starts. The bells used for the intro are the same used in Fat Old Sun, which is one of Pink Floyd's greatest tracks. It starts very desolately with those repeating piano notes. Then it picks up the pace when the vocals come in. The lyrics are surprisingly not about Roger I don't think they're about anything, but something about them is super cool (They also reference See Emily Play at one point, which is really sweet). soon enough it goes into a slide guitar solo a la Fat Old Sun. It's nowhere nearly as good as Fat Old Sun's solo, but still very beautiful in its own right. A solid track to end the album with.

The whole album is a not very good. It has Pink Floyd qualities at times, but not enough. It goes hard sometimes, but not hard enough. It's the musical equivalent of dad sunglasses. There are two problems I have yet to bring up. 1, the mix has zero texture, it feels very watered down and doesn't help the music at all. I wish they'd do a remix of this album like they did for A Momentary Lapse of Reason. 2, this album lacks depth. Aside from Marooned, your first three times listening will be as good as your twentieth. I wanted to review this album most positively, because from what I remembered it was great. But listening to it again it just does not hold up.

2/8/2023 Edit: Relistening to it again, I was very right. This album really is dreadfully shallow, and it draaags. One hypocritical song about hating your exbandmate from twenty years ago is fine, but having the majority of an almost seventy minute album be about it is torture. Even if you ignore the lyrics, the song are this awfully executed mixed between ambience and prog. The only songs where I feel this album succeeds are the instrumentals, Wearing The Inside Out, and High Hopes, everything else is filler. The guitar work may be difficult, but all the solos on those filler tracks have no build up and feel super unwarranted.

theCoagulater | 2/5 |

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