Is This The Life We Really Want?
Album review by Dierdre Cardona
Would an album really be a Roger Waters album if it wasn’t teeming with sociopolitical lyrics being spat over the recurring motifs of Waters’ previous works? The former Pink Floyd front man teamed up with Radiohead’s producer, Nigel Godrich to create the album we’ve been waiting for since Waters’ 1992 Amused To Death. The overall tone of “Is This The Life We Really Want?” is subdued, with a few moments of rage driven climaxes allocated sporadically throughout the album. A subtle cacophony of heartbeats, ticking clocks, and a gradually risingstring section serve as a backdrop to biting lines like “Our parents made us what we are/Or wasit God?/Who gives a fuck, it’s never really over” on the opening track “When We Were Young”. Roger Waters’, an avid user of cyclical motifs, has already established a generational pattern in society that may be well near impossible to break, all within a minute and forty-seconds of the album’s start. The gentle crescendo seamlessly turns us over to the next track, “Déjà Vu” a lyrical narrative in which Roger Waters croons his agenda as God. “If I had been given the nod Ibelieve I could have done a better job” If there’s a button, Roger Waters will push it with a grin. Although it’s evident that Waters was choosing from the cache of sound effects in his pocket, there’s something fresh about them this time around. His voice has a fragility that juxtaposes quite nicely with the ominous undertones in songs like “The Last Refugee”, “The Most Beautiful Girl”, and “Wait For Her”. The album takes a turn at the fourth track, “Picture That” where Waters abandons the poetic musings of a world with no need for refugees, and becomes impassioned with the album’s central message. A slideshow of images spat out byWaters gradually turn from bleak to gruesome, reminding us of the steady dwindle of our world. “Picture a shithouse with no fucking drains/Picture a leader with no fucking brains” is a clearly stated “Fuck you!” to Donald Trump and anyone else who takes advantage of human suffering. Nigel Godrich’s production has a cleanliness to it that plays with the right tools to engineer the Waters/Floyd sound. At the climax of the track, your heartbeat can’t help but rise when Waters strains the songs closing lines “Why so weedy?/So fucking needy?/There’s no such thing as being too greedy”.
From the beautiful acoustic ballad, “Wait For Her” to the breathtaking title track, (which feels like true transcendence) Waters remains one of the most prolific artists by delivering one of the sonically best albums of the year, and what may be among the most socially important albums of the decade, along with Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly. Is This The Life We Really Want ? is a perfect demonstration as to how artistry and protest can come together in a seamless fashion in which they play off of each other to create a bigger and better statement than either could never make on their own.