Undoubtedly one of the most recognizable and influential acts in the history of rock music, Pink Floyd are putting a wrap on their storied career with The Endless River. Frontman David Gilmour and drummer Nick Mason have both confirmed that this will be the band's final record, based on over 20 hours of previously unreleased material recorded for their 1994 studio effort The Division Bell. Music from the Gilmour-led era has long been a point of contention among listeners, with many sorely missing the creative influence of Roger Waters after he left the group in 1985. Built around 20-year-old musical ideas, the disc harkens back to the group's recent days rather than set off in search of new musical territory.
A number of distinct Pink Floyd hallmarks are scattered throughout the listen, such as Gilmour's emotive, blues-rooted electric leads, Mason's steady percussion and late band member Richard Wright's omnipresent keys. With the record also being a tribute to Wright, who died in 2008, the accomplished player's posthumous contributions range from trading melodies on "It's What We Do" to delivering what feels like an elegy for himself on "Autumn '68." Gilmour's guitar work shows little sign of regression, which proves important on a record made up predominantly of instrumentals. These short bursts of ambient expression prove easy to get lost in despite his soaring six-string sustain, save for the edgier two-part "Allons-y." The flighty instrumental works culminate with "Louder Than Words," a welcome swansong notable not only for being the single cut featuring lyrics, but also because of its poignant observations on the symbiosis of the group's career.
"Let's go with the flow, wherever it goes, we're more than alive" sings Gilmour in one moment on the closer, aware that the iconic group's music will continue to live on just as it has already done across 15 studio records and a 50-year career. Pink Floyd's final farewell doesn't deliver anything particularly unfamiliar to those acquainted with the Gilmour years. However, The Endless River serves its purpose as well as a collection of unreleased material can — it remembers an integral band member while reflecting on past glories in a reserved, respectable fashion. (Columbia)