Comprising material originally sketched during writing sessions for the band’s previously final LP, 1994’s ‘The Division Bell’, album number 15 ‘The Endless River’ is Pink Floyd at their most pointless.
These songs – which for the most part remain half-realised ideas given a surface layer of shiny new paint at David Gilmour’s own studio facilities – might have made sense in a complementary capacity, as a bonus disc accompanying some anniversary push for ‘The Division Bell’. But as a standalone record sold on its own terms, ‘The Endless River’ is a boring trudge through meaningless guitar motifs and weightless rhythms, most pieces sounding entirely adrift without a vocal to anchor their already limited purpose.
This is an almost impossibly bland creation, droning background musak for aging prog-rockers mostly asleep by four in the afternoon. When Gilmour finally sings, on last track ‘Louder Than Words’ (a co-write with his wife, Polly Samson), the damage has long ago been done. The closer is a posthumous bow for late keyboard player Richard Wright, who died from cancer in 2008, and isn’t an awful song by any stretch. But it’s so slight that even beside the lightweight features of ‘The Division Bell’ it would have struggled to leave any singular impression.
With all the will in the world it is impossible to hold ‘The Endless River’ up as anything but deluxe-edition bonus material that got away, the kind of content that you might play the once before discarding to the forgotten corners of a collection. As an album in its own right it is terrifically tedious, 40-something minutes of mindless, meandering muso-muscle flexing with a never-more-limp ineffectiveness, topped by a track that salvages some respect but comes too late to alter the feeling that, if you paid the tenner or whatever your retailer of choice was charging for this, you were mugged.
If there’s any more of this colourless, inconsequential studio detritus waiting in the Pink Floyd archives, please, let ‘The Endless River’ be the dam that prevents its flow from need-no-more-money millionaires to nostalgia-blinkered punters forevermore.
Words: Mike Diver
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