Is Pink Floyd's A Momentary Lapse of Reason Misunderstood or Just Bad?
Like a lot of people I didn't really discover Pink Floyd until I was in my late teens. I had heard their songs before on the radio, but had never felt the need to go buy any of their CDs. Then one night in my dorm room I listened to a pirated copy of The Wall and suddenly it clicked. I was a fan.
The Wall was Roger Waters' baby, so not only did I become a fan of the band I became a fan of him as a solo artist. Somewhere along the line I decided that I didn't need to listen to any of the post-Waters Floyd stuff because in my mind they were just imposters.
It's a pretty silly viewpoint to have, but I was young and prone to stupidity. With A Momentary Lapse Of Reason turning 25 this month, I thought it was a good time to what I had been missing.
Although I had never listened to the album before I was well aware of its big single "Learning to Fly." The song has been a source of controversy between certain friends and I over the last decade, because I've always thought it was a pretty boring song and people seem to think I'm wrong.
Listening to it now, the reason I realize that I've always been so hard on it is because it doesn't feel like a Pink Floyd song to me. That's a silly notion given that we're talking about a group that released "See Emily Play," "One Of These Days," and "Comfortably Numb" as singles, but it's just how I feel.
The other thing I realized is that in the context of the rest of the album it's actually a pretty good song precisely because it doesn't sound like any other Pink Floyd track. All of the problems I have with the album stem from the group trying too hard to be Pink Floyd.
"Dogs of War" is a good example of this problem. On a musical level it's a retread of The Dark Side of the Moon's "Money", only that it replaces the iconic bassline with a boring string loop and has a terrible saxophone solo. Lyrically it's a retread of the same themes that show up in Animals, using the same metaphor they did in "Dogs."
What's worse is that boring string loop goes on roughly forever. It's the centerpiece of the first three minutes of the track including the opening 30 seconds where it's pretty much the only thing the listener hears aside from a few uncreative sound effects.