A Momentary Lapse Of Reason
REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 07/25/2005
On this month's edition of "Albums Everyone Hates For No Reason," we look at Pink Floyd's 1987 comeback A Momentary Lapse of Reason.
A group that carries on without a key member is often seen as committing sacrilege. Led Zeppelin gave up after Bonham died, which is why their legend is cemented firmly, but bands like the Who, the Doors and the Beach Boys continue to release albums and tour, although they are missing perhaps the most important member of their respective band (well, not the Who, but they just won't give up).
Floyd caught a lot of flak for releasing this one without Roger Waters, who left in 1983 to pursue his dream of being a dictator in a Communist country and occassionally making music about the cons of hitchhiking and radio chaos. Songwriter and guitarist/vocalist David Gilmour, the McCartney to Roger's bleak Lennon, re-hired keyboardist Rick Wright, kept drummer Nick Mason and recorded ten tracks that are worthy of the Floyd mantle.
Well, almost. Nothing will ever come close to the Dark Side- Wish- Animals- Wall quartet, but it is unfair to compare those to this. This is Gilmour's band now, and the listener needs to deal with it on those terms. And, it's interesting to hear Gilmour's sound and how it influenced the earlier albums. One wonders what The Wall would have sounded like if he had exercised more control and not let Waters dominate.
Some critics say this follows a formula. I wonder what formula Floyd has ever followed. They have no formula. They change with every album, incorporate many styles and tackle whatever topics they wish. So a straight-ahead rock/pop album like this, with some atmospherics thrown in, is no stranger than Atom Heart Mother or The Wall.
The songs here are shorter, and a little more accessible, but they are still great. Granted, "Learning to Fly" and "On The Turning Away" have been overplayed, but they still hold up well. "The Dogs Of War" is a chugging, metallic piece unlike anything Floyd had ever done, and is not as bad as some say, and "One Slip" is another terrific number, quick and with Gilmour's smoky vocals all over it (he never got due credit as a singer), but the best moment here is "Sorrow," with an extended guitar solo that ends the track and proves that band is back and enjoying itself very much, thank you. Roger who?
However, the instrumentals drag the album down. "Signs Of Life" sounds like a sci-fi soundtrack number and is farily slight, while "Terminal Frost" is a boring instrumental, but "Yet Another Movie" is pretty good, finally picking up with the too-short closer "Round And Around." The filler pieces "A New Machine" are just that.
So there are some great moments here, and some failed experiments, but this album is worthy to sit with the secondary Floyd discs and is worth hearing even if you're sick of the band's overplayed '70s work. You may even find a new favorite Floyd song here.