ROGER WATERS Answers “Is This the Life We Really Want?” Question

Roger Waters - Is This the Life We Really Want?

Listen to a Chuck Berry song, any Chuck Berry song, and seconds in anyone with at least a casual knowledge of the guitar world can tell you who’s playing thanks to his signature bumblebee vibrato. Listen to a Beatles piano part and again, there’s no mistaking that it’s Sir Paul McCartney blistering up and down.

The same goes for this album. After the first seconds album opener “When We Were Young” there is no doubt that Roger Waters is once again sending a message. Even the song title gives you a hint on what is going on here. Lending a lyric from “Shine on You Crazy Diamond” and slightly changing it to give it a personal note, Waters offers a record comprised from music of his haunting past and bittersweet present, and lyrics that, as it was always the case, are dealing with the dirty political present.

This time Waters has left the production desk to Nigel Godrich who did an amazing job here, in it that he took both from the two worlds: that classic sound that adorned Floyd records 40+ years ago is wonderfully mashed-up with the contemporary sound of his own work with Radiohead.

On Is This the Life We Really Want?, it seems that Waters’ tongue has never been more harsh but also more apt than today. Take for example a stanza in “Deja Vu” where Waters talks, “If I were a drone / patrolling foreign skies / with my electronic eyes for guidance / and the element of surprise / I would be afraid to find someone at home / maybe a woman at a stove / baking bread, making rice, or just boiling down some bones / if I were a drone.” Or the one in the actual “The Last Refugee”: “And search the horizon / And you’ll find my child / Down by the shore / Digging around for a chain or a bone / Searching the sand for a relic washed up by the sea.

Continuing his farming 40 years after the release of AnimalsWaters shouts in a theatrical, symphonic center piece of the album, the title song: “The goose has gotten fat / On caviar and fancy bars / And subprime homes / And broken homes / Is this the life, the holy grail?

Hear ROGER WATERS' New Song "Déjà Vu"

Although a master of concept records, with Is This the Life We Really Want? Waters doesn’t offer a central story that’s threaded through the record’s 12 tracks. This record is rather a collection of different but still cohesive topics that look like an every-day life.

Musically, Waters derives from his rich past and whether he likes it or not, the songwriting here does recall many moments from his previous band. You can almost certainly notice that some parts on the album actually feel like recurring motifs that were once a part of Pink Floyd albums. The intro in “Bird in a Gale” is the one from “Welcome to the Machine” off of Pink Floyd’s 1975’s Wish You Were Here, but the song also feels as an LSD-inspired pattern from the early Floyd records. The connection between Is This the Life We Really Want? and Wish You Were Here doesn’t end there. The lead single from the Waters’ new album, “Smell the Roses,” pays another tribute to the 1975 album—“Have a Cigar” in particular. This song’s connection with Waters’ former band is deepened with the Animals flourishes—the barking dogs and a slide guitar solo.

And then there is a connection with Waters-penned Floyd’s The Wall, in it that almost all songs on Is This the Life We Really Want?—that feature Waters’ recognisable aged, spoken-word voice, acoustic guitar and piano noodling—recall his songs from the 1979 magnum opus. The closing song in particular, “Part of Me Died” is sort of a far-fetched way too minimal sibling of “Comfortably Numb.” The bridge near the end of “Part of Me Died” briefly resembles the one from the 1979 hit. As far as the lyrical / effect resemblances go, a monkey from the Amused to Death is back, flipping through the channels / songs.

Turning on this album feels like floating down a calm, warm river. Its melodies will wash over you and relax every fibre of your being. Probably what makes this album feel so right is that Roger Waters sounds like he’s finally detached himself from the legacy that is Pink Floyd, but in the same time he doesn’t avoid sounding like them. Is This the Life We Really Want? seems to be what Waters wants to hear, and the album is all the better for it. It’s probably not the most incredible release that Waters has been associated with, but it comes close, and for that it deserves all the respect.

Tracklist:

01. When We Were Young
02. Déjà Vu
03. The Last Refugee
04. Picture That
05. Broken Bones
06. Is This the Life We Really Want?
07. Bird In A Gale
08. The Most Beautiful Girl
09. Smell the Roses
10. Wait for Her
11. Oceans Apart
12. Part of Me Died

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