It’s hardly a secret: in the frank light of day, most of us admit that Endless River was a bit of an anticlimax. Mainly because it wasn’t really a new Pink Floyd album, or at least not in the way we hoped for – stemming, as it did, from Division Bell session material, with a precious lack of things like new melodies, fresh hooks and songs.
Good news here then: this is a proper new album of new things, and it’s good. Clearly this is what Gilmour’s heart has really been in – joined at the hip (and writing desk) with his lyricist wife Polly Samson.
It’s pleasing to see him incorporate a range of earthy, contrasting shades to offset his celestial Floydian persona. Tastes of Baltic folk jiggery (e.g. Faces Of Stone). Smooth, sultry jazz (The Girl In The Yellow Dress). Even, in places, the kind of 80s pop bounce that almost makes you think of Split Enz and the like.
Not that his past is totally masked. Echoes of Pink Floyd are scattered across the record; not excessively so, but just enough to offer tantalising suggestion of Gilmour’s other life, before reverting to decidedly individual, ‘solo Gilmour’ numbers. The simple yet heartbreaking opening notes of Faces Of Stone hint at those in Shine On You Crazy Diamond. The spoken word bit that starts off the melancholy A Boat Lies Waiting echoes that in Us And Them.
And of course there’s the guitar – that heavens-reaching, unmistakably Gilmour-esque tone and style that’s been imitated by so many artistes since Floyd’s halcyon days. It’s all over Rattle That Lock. Even when quite different qualities seem to dominate, those elegantly cutting licks that say ‘Money’, ‘Breathe’, ‘Young Lust’ etc sing through (the latter, in particular, rears its head in the funky, textured throb of Today). Yes old habits die hard, and some…well, some just shouldn’t die. Gilmour’s signature axework is one such thing.
You wanted a new record from the Floyd camp? This is it. Doubtless Gilmour thinks of it as a completely separate oeuvre – his own thing. And it is, of course it is, but the residual Floydian touches do no harm.