A band I found myself really growing to appreciate during college has released their swan song, The Endless River, one final album at the end of a nearly 50 year run and 20 year absence from producing new music. Thankfully, it fares better than The Phantom Menace and Indy 4 did… or any of the many plausible, appropriate band comparisons that are surely out there (I’m a bit of a movie guy).
Pink Floyd’s The Endless River (TER) consists almost entirely of ambient & instrumental tracks, only one “song” to close it all out at the end, briefly calling back to their ’94 Division Bell, which was actually intended to be a double-disc release and contain much of what you’ll hear now. I’ve always been partial to the band’s later, David Gilmour era, or at least more embracing of it than some fans, mostly because I can appreciate the growth in their sound. “Better” or “worse” is more of a personal opinion on them at this point. While most of this material isn’t “new”, this collection of unreleased music should forever hold rank in the band’s discography, as a high note certainly worth going out on. The Beatles’ penultimate Abbey Road was apparently recorded much at the same time as Let It Be, (even later in the sessions, actually), both praised releases of which stood the test of time. Kind of a unique similarity to another classic band on their way out, only this time, it’s been fermenting for another 20 years.
I don’t listen to enough music to be any type of authority on this matter whatsoever… I’m just exercising my right to completely unsupported speculation… but most major bands don’t seem to go around releasing purely instrumental albums, at least not when coming from a history of primarily lyrical ‘songs’ (aka… the picture books of music). For those already quite familiar with Pink Floyd’s work, but for some absurd reason don’t already have TER yet (the most pre-ordered music title in Amazon history)… just imagine an hour of Echoes or Shine On, but with that majestic & ethereal flavor of their later years. For a band that truly stood out for instrumentally-driven psychedelic rock, it’s no surprise to see an album of this nature. If anything, it’s long overdue… but better late than never.
Pink Floyd has changed dramatically over time, due mostly to rotating frontmen, yet they’ve always managed to keep the name relevant, music fresh and sales high. Fans less pleased with this release, while not necessarily yearning for more of the older style material from the 80’s or even 70’s, likely got off the Pink Floyd boat two albums back and TER probably won’t be picking too many of them back up for the finale, although a few passages on this album could have certainly found a place in those former eras.
Any fans of classic rock, progressive rock, trance, and just about everything else, should give this at least one pass on Spotify (because if you don’t have that already… download it now… you can come back and read more later). Nevertheless, The Endless River is great, and being able to pick up a copy of my seemingly dissipated favorite band’s final album has been a pretty cool experience. And based on what I heard this this week, we’d better not hold our breaths for that fabled Led Zeppelin reformation anytime soon…