A love letter to the unsung hero of Pink Floyd
And a love letter to the fans, too. The Endless River is oft dismissed as a cash grab or Division Bell outtakes, and perhaps these things are true to some extent.
But in pulling from the sounds of Saucer (“Skins”), Dark Side (“Anisina”), WYWH (“It’s What We Do”), and the Division Bell (pretty much everything else), what remained of Pink Floyd accomplished something sorely needed: a reconciliation with the past, and acknowledgment of newer fans.
I was born the year the Division Bell was released, and the album was never one of my favorite works by Pink Floyd even though they have been my favorite band for as long as I’ve been an avid music listener. Hearing that after 20 years, and against all odds, more was coming, I didn’t know how to react. But listening to the album, I knew it was, despite its flaws, absolutely essential. And for the first time, I felt a part of the experience rather than a historian. My reception of the album has cooled down in the years since it’s release. Musically there’s no denying it’s one of the weaker entries in their discography. But as a capstone, it is well deserving the Pink Floyd name, and recontextualizes all that came before it.
Gilmour acknowledges the weaknesses of his era of Pink Floyd by dropping lyrics almost entirely, makes peace with the passage of time and passing of Richard Wright by releasing four ambient suites based on his unfinished work that recall the periods of the band’s history where Wright’s contributions were most important. And there’s even a nod to Waters in “Louder Than Words”… despite everything, “this thing we do” is timeless, and all the hate is ancient history.
David Gilmour may have been the star of Pink Floyd, and Roger Waters the brain, but the soul has always been Richard Wright, his atmospheric keyboards and organs the elevating factor that raised Pink Floyd to become greater than the sum of their parts. It is no mistake that Gilmour and Mason pay simultaneous tribute to both Pink Floyd and Wright on this album; the two are one in the same.