Sound — 8
Seven years of criticisms later, David Gilmour-led Pink Floyd released what is the most recent Floyd studio album: The Division Bell. Oh yeah, it got an advantage: the lot of studio musicians and drum machines used for "A Momentary Lapse of Reason" were almost gone, and we finally have the priviledge of hearing Richard Wright playing those keyboards (oh, and contributing in sonwriting), and Nick Mason having a good time behind his drum kit. Oh, I'm sorry, but it also had a disadvantage: apart from two tracks ("Poles Apart" and "High Hopes"), there's no a single original idea on the album. Let's see: Opener "Cluster One" is an improvement from 1987's "Sings of Life", a weak imitation of "Shine On You Crazy Diamond", "What Do You Want from Me?" recreates "Have a Cigar", "Marooned" seems a melodic version of "Echoes" middle section, "A Great Day for Freedom" is a weak response to "The Wall", "Wearing the Inside Out" has definitely something to do with the atmospheric numbers on "Obscured by Clouds", "Take It Back" ripoffs both "Run Like Hell"'s riffage and "One Slip"'s feeling, "Coming Back to Life" is the third (! ) "Shine On" ripoff, "Keep Talking" borrows the talkbox noises from "Pigs (Three Different Ones)" with more "Run Like Hell"/"Another Brick in the Wall (Part 1)" riffs, and finally "Lost for Words" guitar riff sounds very similar to "Wish You Were Here"'s one. So, for the previous reasons, am I ready to give this a one? No way. I'm forced to get off two points because one of the main resons of the existance of music is originality. And for the stupid "A Great Day for Freedom", which anyway contains a good guitar solo. The rest ranges from "pleasant" to marvelous. "What Do You Want from Me?" is catchy "Poles Apart" is beautiful, "Marooned" is an epic 5-minute solo in which Gilmour explores all the possibilities that a Whammy pedal can give to such an incredible guitarist, "Wearing the Inside Out" (the best song if it weren't for the last one) is incredibly beautiful, and unfortunately underrated. It even features Dick Parry, the sax player from "Money", "Us and Them", and "Shine On". "Take It Back" is great, "Coming Back to Life" is good (but I prefer the live rendition from Pulse), "Keep Talking" is OK, not exactly a highlight, but is not bad anyway, "Lost for Words" is a good 'folk' song, and finally we have the amazing closer "High Hopes", as I mentioned above, the best song, it's so beautiful, moving, great acoustic and slide guitars. Oh, and a delayed coda by manager Steve O'Rourke. Hey, this might sound funny, but with this coda, the Floyd, just as their most famous concept albums, are a giant song cycle! After all, remember that "The Piper at the Gates of Dawn" opened with the first manager, Peter Jenner, talking through a vocoder or something. But that's not important. "The Division Bell" is underrated, beacuse the amount of filler is little, and the gems are abundant. A very enjoyable album.
Lyrics — 8
An eight, too. Even Gilmour stated that he wasn't exactly the greatest lyricist of all time. But fortunately, he gets some assistance of his soon-to-be wife, writer, and journalist Polly Samson. And, apparently, we seem to get a sort of a concept here. Two themes are predominant within the album: a response to "The Wall", and some answers to Roger Waters. The former is just noticed in "Keep Talking" and "A Great Day for Freedom", but many of the songs ("What Do You Want from Me?", "Poles Apart", "Wearing the Inside Out" indirectly, and "Lost for Words") may discuss the later. Some people have even made an analogy: "Wish You Were Here" is to Syd Barrett as "The Division Bell" is to Waters. "Take It Back" is not a love song, is an ambientalist track, about the damage man does to Mother Earth, and "High Hopes" is the band's autobiographical track, narrating the story from the start to the success to the split-up, etc. A swan song? I don't know. But has great lyrics. Finally, a question. Was Waters the definitive lyricist? Of course. But Samson is very far from being bad.
Overall Impression — 8
After "The Final Cut" and (mainly) "Obscured by Clouds", this is another underrated great album by the band. OK, I admit that I'll hate if they produce another album that ripoffs previous succeses, but I feel so warmly received into the album's atmosphere, that even with the criticism late-day Floyd has received, I adore it. A fantastic record that the average Floyd lover (and non-Waters mega-lovers/Gilmour detractors) may like.