The Final Cut
A Momentary Lapse of Reason
By David Chiu
No doubt that Pink Floyd’s legend can be attributed to the mammoth success and popularity of hit records such as The Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You Were Here, and The Wall. But during the period from Dark Side to The Division Bell, Floyd also made records that perhaps weren’t as popular, critically-acclaimed or commercially huge than the aforementioned albums, but in retrospect are underrated and deserve another listen. With Animals, The Final Cut and A Momentary Lapse of Reason—which were recently reissued individually and as part of the Discovery boxed set, this is a good time to look back on them.
Just like the book Animal Farm, Animals (1977) definitely has an Orwellian feel towards society and human nature. In following-up to the warm-sounding Wish You Were Here, Animals is rockier and darker. Book ended by the acoustic-sounding “Pigs on the Wing” (Parts 1 and 2), Animals contain epic-length tracks that can best be described as cynical and jaded such as “Dogs,” “Pigs (Three Different Ones)” and the brilliantly climactic “Sheep.” With Roger Waters asserting control at this point in the band’s history, there is no question the direction the band was heading into on Animals’ follow-up, The Wall.
The Final Cut (1983) —subtitled A Requiem for the Post War Dream—is Floyd at its most angstful. It follows in the same anti-war sentiment of The Wall lyrically although it doesn’t quite pack the same musical punch like that classic double album. The absence of Richard Wright, who was fired prior to the making of the album, and the lack of unity and tension within the band, particularly between Waters and David Gilmour, permeated on The Final Cut. It is uneven although there are a few noteworthy songs such as the scathing “The Fletcher Memorial Home” and the very poignant “When The Tigers Broke Free” (which was not on the original release but in this reissue). The Final Cut has the misfortunate of following a mammoth album in The Wall, but as an anti-war record, it fulfills it goal.
Fortunately, A Momentary Lapse of Reason (1987) is the antidote to The Final Cut. This time, Floyd was in the hands of Gilmour and Mason as Waters left the band acrimoniously. The music from Momentary recalls the earlier Floyd records of the past, especially in a song like the instrumentals “Signs of Life” and “Terminal Frost”; the popular “Learning to Fly” is a veiled statement that the band could carry on without Waters. “One Slip” is somewhat of an uncharacteristic fast-paced rock song; while On the Turning Away is quite hopeful and unifying power ballad. The best song on the album, however, is “Sorrow,” an angst-ridden number that features one of Gilmour’s best guitar playing moments (the wailing solo towards the end befits the lyrical mood of that song: “There’s a silence that speaks so much louder than words/Of promises broken”). Momentary undeservedly gets a bad rep, but given the circumstances of The Final Cut and Waters’ departure, this album showed that the rest of the band members rising to the challenge. Sure it’s not Dark Side or The Wall, but Momentary is a great record in its own right.