Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Roger Waters – Is This the Life We Really Want, album review

Bulldozing a Pearl?

Picture a leader with no fucking brains from Picture That sums up the dour focus, not that I disagree, and in Déjà vu, Waters asks if he had been God what would he have done, better. Arrogant, presumptuous, a tad pompous? Possibly, but any more than brainless politicians with only a fraction of the genuine sensibility, overblown or not?

I actually do not know my Pink Floyd like I’m sure many would think one must, and I certainly haven’t followed Waters' musical career post this, and indeed have read more about his political controversies over time than his music. I recall The Wall a little.

So I have no baggage; no expectations. I recognise immediately that this collection of songs, 25 years since his last solo, is obviously his signature sound. That could then suggest it is merely repetitive and/or unimaginative. I don’t know and don’t care. I am enjoying this. He has a grizzled spoken vocal, but he also pushes it through some impressive acrobatics at times, and it works. The lyrics are deeply thoughtful – and that lends itself to the accusation of pedantry – but I am happy to accept the earnest care and concern. Waters really does seem to be ruminating on the ‘what if’ of life today, though acknowledges we cannot turn back the clock, cannot go back in time, but we can say ‘fuck you’ when we’re not listened to in the Moody Blues sounding Broken Bones.

There are lots of soundgrabs from recorded voices, much his own, and the radio, including the weather forecast, and this is derivative of himself, but why not? The sound is at times progressive; at times it is acoustic to foreground the simple melody, and always the message.

Title track Is This the Life We Really Want? is really the epitome of message over melody. There are brooding strings and other orchestration to enhance the list-lyrics of global observation, and the narrative sounds exactly like Ian Drury. It is a litany. It builds into the percussive opening of Bird in a Gale, more soundgrabs from radio announcements, and this is Pink Floyd in a sound we have heard many times before, or you may have and I haven’t, as I said earlier on, and perhaps this informs my tolerance and general liking for the apparent familiarity.

I like the humument of the cover and want to know what the original text was. Should it be obvious?

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