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An Introspective View of Roger Waters’ release, “Is This The Life We Really Want?”

On 2 June the long-awaited release of the ex-Floyd frontman’s first studio album in almost 25 years hit the shelves. In just fifteen days the record has managed to elicit strikingly polarized opinions and views; with some citing it as a Floyd-esque masterpiece whereas others are already viewing it in a much less flattering light. Since Pink Floyd’s surprising 2014 release of ‘The Endless River’, which musically consisted of previously unreleased ideas and concepts which the group explored during the 1994 ‘Division Bell’ sessions there has been a lot of increasing disputes amongst members of the Pink Floyd fan community concerning the band-related politics and democracy of the group seeing as the record didn’t feature any involvement from Waters. Some initially considered the release a disservice to Roger Waters as many view him as the unspoken heart and soul of the group whereas others viewed it and still view it as a necessary release as it gave significant homage to the talents of keyboardist Richard Wright after his death in 2008. ‘Is This The Life We Really Want?’ follows a similar format as the origins of some of the musical ideas date back to 2010, however the socio-political lyrical themes album makes it an incredibly relevant release in connection with the current worldly events. Mood-wise, the album is overwhelmingly sombre and gritty yet momentary flashes of hope do indeed occur.  Musically, it is a rock album yet the instrumentation on the record is surprisingly quite acoustic. Soundscapes and effects play an important role and there’s an all-round pervasive and permeating degree of grandiloquence in the production side of things. Nods to his former work with Pink Floyd do appear often, particularly on the track ‘Deja Vu’ which is melodically redolent of Floyd acoustic works such as ‘Pigs on the Wing’ from 1977’s Animals and ‘Mother’ from 1979’s The Wall. Exercises of spoken word poems appear on tracks such as ‘Part of Me Died’ and the title track. ‘Smell the Roses’ was the lead single from the album which was released almost two months before the other songs and is indubitably the most diverse song on the album; oozing with decorative backing vocals and funk-styled guitar riffing. Songs like ‘Picture This’ are representative of the album of a whole; – thematically angsty and incandescent whilst retaining a degree of despondent apathy and repose.

Personnel:

Roger Waters – vocals, acoustic guitar, bass guitar
Nigel Godrich – keyboards, guitar, sound collages, arrangements
Gus Seyffert – guitar, keyboards, bass guitar
Jonathan Wilson – guitar, keyboards
Roger Joseph Manning, Jr. – keyboards
Lee Pardini – keyboards
Joey Waronker – drums
Jessica Wolfe – vocals
Holly Laessig – vocals
David Campbell – string arrangements

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