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Album Review: Roger Waters – Is This the Life We Really Want?

So apparently the Trump administration is such serious business that it inspired prog rock’s most famous protester Roger Waters to release a new album for the first time in decades. Okay, that’s a bit of an exaggeration. After all, the former Pink Floyd icon’s fourth solo album has been in the works since at least 2010, and it is nice to see Waters take a break from touring The Wall to get some new material out there. Twelve years have passed since his Ca Ira opera came, out and it’s been a quarter century since he released the equally politically charged Amused to Death.

It isn’t too surprising to see shades of Amused to Death on here, but there are actually more elements of classic Pink Floyd than I had anticipated. Predictably, there are plenty of piano-driven laments and spacy numbers in the vein of The Final Cut, but the album also occasionally reaches into Wish You Were Here and Animals territory. It’s most obvious in the periodic “Sheep” style gallops on “Picture That” but the slow burn groove on “Smell the Roses” seems to be somewhere between “Have a Cigar” and “Pigs.”

Of course, Roger himself holds up as well as you’d hope for him to. Age certainly isn’t a concern considering he was never a technically good singer to begin with, and his delivery is howled with as much passion as ever on songs like “Picture That.” If anything, he’s only gotten more emotional with time as his lyrics are among the bluntest in his fifty year career. The ‘if I were God’ lines on “Déjà vu” are pretty well-written for such an egotistical subject, and I can’t help but smile when the title track muses on when a ‘nincompoop becomes the president.’ I really have to give Waters props for talking about legitimate political concerns in 2017 instead of being the ten millionth old-timer to bitch about the internet…

It is interesting to see Roger Waters release what may be his most accessible solo album so late in his career but it’s just as refreshing to see that his wit hasn’t dulled with time. His critiques on current events remain as preachy yet insightful as they were in his prime, even if the actual songs run together after a while. It may be a little too derivative for anybody outside of hardcore Pink Floyd fans to gravitate to, but anybody who’s been paying attention should find plenty to appreciate here.

Highlights:
“Déjà Vu”
“Picture That”
“Bird in a Gale”
“Smell the Roses”

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