Pink Floyd, "The Endless River" (Columbia Records)
Never was an album more aptly named than "The Endless River," the new — and seemingly final — release from Pink Floyd. It flows unstoppably, and while some listeners may feel it meanders on too long, it's very easy to get swept along by it.
Though this is the band's first studio album in two decades, much of the material was recorded in 1993 and 1994, during sessions for "The Division Bell." For years, it seemed that album would be Pink Floyd's swansong. But now the material has been tweaked and shaped under into a new release, partly in tribute to keyboard player Rick Wright, who died in 2008.
Guitarist David Gilmour has called "The Endless River" a series of musical conversations; the band members' musical rapport was always more eloquent than their spoken communications. There are not many words on this mostly instrumental album, although physicist Stephen Hawking lends his distinctive voice to "Talkin' Hawkin'."
Both the compositions and their titles allude to all the water that has passed under the bridge in the course of Pink Floyd's long career. The opening track, "Things Left Unsaid," sets the tone: It's a woozy wash of Wright's keyboards, haunting horn sounds and Gilmour's guitar that feels elegiac.
On it rolls from there, sometimes a tranquil wash, sometimes churned into rapids by Gilmour's piercing guitar and Nick Mason's thundering drums, for 18 tracks — four sides of vinyl if you opt for the old-fashioned format.
What's on display is not so much songwriting as chemistry. This band had something, a magic, and you can hear it throughout "The Endless River."
The band members know it, too. The closing track is "Louder Than Words," and finally there are lyrics: "We bitch and we fight, diss each other on sight," it begins, a fond but weary tribute to creative spark and strife. "The sum of our parts, the beat of our hearts, is louder than words."
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