He is 73, his voice is weak, his anger is strong and his music is back to the quintessential Floydian era. Roger Waters has a new Double LP, an expansive and brilliant narrative for our dystopian times. ‘Is This the Life We Really Want’, the 5th studio album by the former bassist / vocalist of the legendary band Pink Floyd, was much needed. His last solo venture, ‘Amused to Death’ was 25 years ago.
Very few bands have been able to create a sound territory which can be called ‘almost a genre’ and Pink Floyd is one of them. Mr Waters has played a big role as the architect of that sound and this album is another example of the same. This time he has Nigel Godrich, the producer of Radiohead to add grandeur and tightness to it. It’s tighter than ‘The Final Cut’, which had a lot of stray moments and its close to the The Wall, which was…well, The Wall.
Like all his solo works, as well as the last few Floyd albums, this too has an overall concept and the songs are based around it, sometimes explicitly and sometimes loosely. The point that he is making can be summed up as, ‘all the politicians are useless and we are living in the dark times’. With lyrics like, "Picture a shithouse with no fucking drains / Picture a leader with no fucking brains..." (Picture That, Side B, 1st track) and "But we chose to adhere to abundance / We chose the American Dream / And oh mistress liberty / How we abandoned thee...." (Broken Bones, Side B, 2nd track), the rant is pretty clear about the leader and the dark times.
I am still in the process of absorbing this sprawling double LP in its entirety, so I’m not qualified enough to go down each track, one by one and pardon me for the same. Let me just talk about Side D, which has me enraptured, currently.
It starts off with Smell the Roses having Echoes (Meddle, 1971) like beats with an incredible interlude in between and eerie lyrics about explosives and death. Next come the beautifully dark chain of 3 tracks carrying a classic, linear, slow Water’s melodic pattern. The first one, Wait for Her is an adaptation of a hauntingly beautiful poem written by the great Palestinian poet, Mahmoud Darwish. It’s a love song that ends with a war-fusillade wherein ‘a she’ dies. Consider these lyrics.
Take her to the balcony, see the moon soaked in milk
Hear the rustle of her silk
Wait for her
Don't let your eyes alight upon the twin doves of her breast
Lest they take flight
Wait for her
And if she comes soon
Wait for her
And if she comes late
Then comes the short Oceans Apart followed by Part of Me Died, the last track of the album with these parting lyrics.
Bring me a bowl
To bathe her feet in
Bring me my final cigarette
It would be better by far to die in her arms
Than to linger
In a lifetime of regret
Is This the Life We Really Want is an acerbic response to our times and nothing less was expected from Mr Rogers. For the die-hard fans of classic Floyd era, the album is a delight with the right mix of nostalgia and current context mixed together. And for those who are just vaguely familiar with the name Pink Floyd, this is a great place to start and then work their way backwards.
Year: June 2017
Genre: Rock / Art Rock / Progressive Rock
Producer: Nigel Godrich
Rating: 4.5 / 5
LP Courtesy: Sony DADC
Reviewed by Meraj Hasan
Meraj Hasan is a Mumbai based communication professional (and an amateur poet/musician) with a passion for listening to music the vinyl way. His 25 year old Technics turntable along with a humble collection of LPs across genres like Classic rock, Classical, Blues and Jazz (amongst others) are his prized possessions.
He can be reached at +91 9833410791 or email: email@example.com