Twenty-five years between albums may seem like a long time, but when you’re the father of the most successful concept albums in the history of rock music, who’s going to rush you? Roger Waters is back with Is This the life We Really Want? And he’s still fighting the establishment.
The Pink Floyd cofounder is a music icon, putting together some of the most amazing and well known albums in the history of rock. His solo career, while solid, hasn’t been as great. Each of Waters’ prior three solo albums have had their moments, but none have caught fire quite like his music in the ’70s. And just like in that time, Waters, now 73, is mad about the climate the world is in. For those who haven’t seen clips from his live shows, here’s a spoiler alert: Roger Waters is not a fan of Donald Trump, whose presence (and voice) is felt throughout.
This time around, Waters enlists the help of producer Nigel Godrich, most notably of Radiohead fame. Most of what Godrich touches turns to gold, or platinum. It will be interesting to see if his magic will rub off on Waters this time around.
The album’s first single, “Smell the Roses,” starts with what can only be described as a classic Waters riff, before his gravelly voice kicks in. “Picture That” is another standout track. It feels, and flows, like The Wall, beginning with ambient noise under a single repeated note before the rest of the instruments kick in.
Waters uses his classic style of speak-singing on the final three tracks of the album. The gruffness of the voice against the softness of the these songs is when I find Waters to be at his finest.
Overall the album has some high points; with callbacks to Pink Floyd. The more I listen to it, the more I think that is the reason Godrich was brought in: to focus Waters onto something that he’s just slightly missed during his solo career.