Wake Up And Smell The Roses
With his last studio album being released in 1992, Roger Waters had a lot to live up to with his latest album Is This the Life We Really Want?, but did it make…the final cut?
First listening to the album, one may be overwhelmed with the sensation of familiarity. The album shows many instances of (as some critics said) “Roger Waters being Roger Waters” and critiquing the record for not really introducing anything new. It almost sounds like a recycled version of Animals with flashes of The Wall. But why does it need to sound new? Why can’t Roger sound like Roger? Is he supposed to sound like The Kinks or Katy Perry? I have to disagree with almost every review that my eyes have gazed upon. Is This the Life We Really Want? shows a much more mature and stripped down Roger Waters than albums past.
Waters anti-war message has always been a strong one and there are an innumerable amount of examples between his career with Pink Floyd through his solo work. However, the latest release shows a refreshing return to the sound that made him the driving force during his tenure with Floyd. This album was begging to have David Gilmour play on it! At almost every turn I was waiting for the solo from “Echoes” on the song “Smell The Roses” or the gargantuan riff during the breakdown of “Sheep” on the song “Picture That“. Every song on this album was soaked in the iconic sound that is Roger Waters.
As stated before, the album is very strong with Waters (almost trademark) anti-war message. With lyrics referencing everything from Trumps presidency to the war torn conditions of the middle east, Waters has delivered the same message he has been vocalizing for years, except this time it’s a bit different. Waters seems somewhat mellow compared to the scathing hatred and depression from Floyd albums like Animals, The Wall, and Final Cut or even his last solo album Amused To Death. Unfortunately, the realistic truths of war and the dark side of politics are also timeless. Waters seems to be singing the same tune to satirically state the age old saying of “those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it“. Look at the last 100 years in politics and tell me that there are no repetitions of power being controlled by the wrong people with the same mistakes being made over and over again. Like Roger said, wake up and smell the phosphorus.
There’s only one part of the album that falls flat though and it’s with the song “The Most Beautiful Girl“. The song itself doesn’t really have much to offer musically or lyrically and sadly encapsulates six minutes of…meh. On the other hand, the vague and warming familiarity of “When We Were Young” brings listeners back to the narrations from The Dark Side Of The Moon, “Déjà Vu” lends to the stripped down sounds of classic tracks like “Mother” and “Pigs On The Wing” (both part 1&2), and the three closing songs (“Wait For Her“, “Oceans Apart“, and “Part of Me Died“) echo back to the melancholic bridge from The Wall (“Is There Anybody Out There“, “Nobody Home“, and “Vera“).
In short, if you really love Pink Floyd and Roger Waters, Is This The Life You Really Want? is right up your alley. For those who want to step outside the box a little though, Is This The Life We Really Want? offers poignant lyrics set to spacious music with realistic sound effects utilized to bring listeners on a musical journey that is both haunting and relatable. Waters returned to make a statement, and did just that. But who will listen?