Roger Waters may not have made an album of new material between 1992 and 2017, but he was very active during that quarter-century. He toured regularly, wrote an opera, reunited Pink Floyd for the 2005 charity concert Live 8, and revived The Wall
several times, turning the self-absorbed rock opera into a political piece. Is This the Life We Really Want?
, his fourth song cycle, picks up on this thread, functioning as barbed protest music for the age of Brexit and Trump. Waters doesn't disguise his bile -- there's a lament for "The Last Refugee" and he spits out "picture a leader with no f****** brains," a clear broadside against Trump -- but the album doesn't seethe with rage. With its deliberate tempos, wide soundscapes, operatic guitar solos, and swelling crescendos, it is recognizably a Waters album or, perhaps more accurately, a Floydian one. Where his other solo albums sported productions that tied them to their time -- quite garishly so in the case of 1987's Radio K.A.O.S
. -- Is This the Life We Really Want?
is warm and supple, thanks in no small part to a band featuring guitarists Jonathan Wilson
and Gus Seyffert
, drummer Joey Waronker
, and keyboardist Roger Manning
. The key player, though, is producer Nigel Godrich
, who gives this a sonic richness evoking late-period Pink Floyd without specifically nodding toward any particular record. Certainly, Is This the Life We Really Want?
lacks the straightforward narrative or melodic thrust of The Wall
, but it isn't as somnolent as The Final Cut
, and if the songs don't call attention to themselves, they nevertheless form a long suite that works as a sustained mood piece. [Is This the Life We Really Want?
was also released on LP and included a download insert.]