Is This the Life We Really Want? is the title of Roger Waters’ first solo album in 25 years, where he raises important questions about the state of our world, which is plagued by war, terrorism, immigration issues, and economic and social decline.
Roger Waters, who is known for his musical masterpiece “The Wall,” (With Pink Floyd) seems to have faced a creative block, where his musical style has remained largely unchanged in subsequent albums, such as “The Final Cut,” “The Pros and Cons of Hitch Hiking,” “Radio KAOS,” and “Amused to Death.” Despite this, Waters’ music remains a unique and powerful voice that raises awareness of important social and political issues.
In the pursuit of packing, one’s work with excessive content, the risk of stifling one’s creative vision looms large. This is evident in Roger Waters’ first solo album, The Pros and Cons of Hitch Hiking, whose original concept was conceived alongside Pink Floyd’s legendary album, “The Wall.”
Despite its promising premise, the album fell short of my expectations, in terms of musically. It begs the question whether the absence of Pink Floyd’s collaborative dynamic and cohesive production played a role in its underwhelming performance.
This serves as a reminder that success in music, as in any artistic pursuit, requires a strong support system and a team capable of refining and enhancing one’s ideas. Let us strive to cultivate an environment that fosters creativity while remaining mindful of the importance of collaboration and constructive feedback.
Following the release of Amused to Death album, it appeared as though Roger Waters had taken a hiatus from creating new music. Instead, he devoted his energy to touring and staging productions of “The Wall” in various iterations, leaving fans to wonder if he would ever grace us with new material. But just when we thought he had disappeared into the shadows, he emerged with fresh songs to debut on stage, igniting a spark of excitement within my very soul. With bated breath and a racing heart, I eagerly await the next chapter in Roger Waters’ musical journey.
Is This the Life We Really Want? was brought to life with the help of Nigel Godrich, the legendary producer behind Radiohead’s mind-blowing sound. It took them a whopping two years to cook up this sonic masterpiece, and the result is nothing short of unpredictable. One moment you’ll find yourself basking in the serene vibes, and the next you’ll be thrust into a frenzied frenzy. And let’s not forget the time Roger Waters performed “Pig” in Mexico, using a giant picture of none other than Donald Trump to draw comparisons to a dictator. The man sure knows how to make a statement, and his music is the perfect vessel to deliver his message.
As the album opens with “When We Were Young,” a series of beats and indistinct muttering, I’m transported to a world where the passage of time is marked by the incessant ticking of a clock. It’s as if OK Computer and Dark Side of the Moon had a baby, and it’s a beautiful thing. I can’t help but think of “Déjà Vu,” a track that has graced the stage on numerous occasions and never fails to captivate me with its haunting melodies.
And then there’s “Jerusalem Laydown” or “Broken Bones,” a track that was once known as “Safe and Sound,” and it’s a testament to the evolution of this album and the endless possibilities that arise when we allow ourselves to be creative and experimental.
In the track “Déjà vu,” Roger Waters manages to deftly blend a sense of humour with a sense of gloom. His musings on what he would do if he were a god are both amusing and poignant.
He speaks of fixing the veins on his face so he wouldn’t turn red when he drank too much, and of ensuring that wrinkles wouldn’t increase with age. He playfully teases the notion of sending many sons and never allowing himself to be hurt, as if he were the almighty creator himself.
But in truth, his thoughts reveal a deeper yearning for something more, a desire to be better than what he is. And while it may seem like delusional thinking to some, there’s a certain beauty in clinging to the belief that our own thoughts are always right. For in doing so, we give ourselves the power to create the world we want to see.
Then, Sound Effects play it role perfectly. when Roger delves into weightier themes. He muses on what it would be like to be a drone, an unmanned aerial vehicle controlled from afar. The use of sound effects and the incorporation of this idea into the music itself is truly masterful, and not surprising considering Roger’s history of pushing the boundaries of what can be achieved with sound.
This is not a new concept for Roger Waters or his band, as they had previously achieved great success with the iconic album, The Dark Side of the Moon. But there’s something particularly haunting and thought-provoking about the way that Roger weaves this idea into the fabric of his music, making it not just a sound effect, but an integral part of the overall experience.
“…to find someone home…”, spaced out…and then a rocket hits the target destroying the house that might be a woman baking bread, cooking rice, boiling soup…
This is Roger Waters, a genius of storytelling.
If you really focus on the lyrics, this album is full of content and meaning. You will hear great sentences such as “Picture a shithouse, with no fucking drains. Picture a leader, with no fucking brains.”
The music has a similar vibe to post Dark Side of the Moon form Pink Floyd, with just the right amount of soundtrack to keep the listener engaged throughout. However, the production team of Nigel and Roger may have missed some opportunities to really make an impact.
They seem to have played it safe, without taking any risks to truly elevate the album. Nevertheless, the overall atmosphere is far from dry and emotionless. It’s juicy and clean, which helps Roger’s songs stand out, but it does blend together at times, lacking a real climax. After listening to a few songs, I found myself wanting to take a break because the tone and lyrics were quite heavy and based on the harsh realities, we see in the news every day. Nonetheless, there’s still plenty to enjoy on this album if you take the time to really delve into it.
As I listened to the last three songs of the album, I noticed a shift towards a more relaxed and optimistic tone. It felt like a reminder that even in the midst of chaos, there is still a glimmer of hope waiting at the end of the tunnel. It made me reflect on whether this is truly the life we want to lead. Despite its sharp and poignant lyrics, it’s a remarkable work by a veteran artist who always strives for more.
However, Is This the Life We Really Want? It is a remarkable work of the old man who has a former great and never satisfied. The surroundings are complaining with sharp words, stabbing the feelings of the listener.
“Is This the Life We Really Want?” was released in 2017 and received generally positive reviews from critics.
Is This the Life We Really Want?
- Released – 2 June 2017
- Recorded – 2010–2017
- Length – 54:06
- Label – Columbia
- Producer – Nigel Godrich
- “When We Were Young” 1:38
- “Déjà Vu” 4:27
- “The Last Refugee” 4:12
- “Picture That” 6:47
- “Broken Bones” 4:57
- “Is This the Life We Really Want?” 5:55
- “Bird in a Gale” 5:31
- “The Most Beautiful Girl” 6:09
- “Smell the Roses” 5:15
- “Wait for Her” 4:56
- “Oceans Apart” 1:07
- “Part of Me Died” 3:12
- Roger Waters – vocals, acoustic guitar, bass guitar
- Nigel Godrich – keyboards, guitar, sound collages, arrangements
- Gus Seyffert – guitar, keyboards, bass guitar
- Jonathan Wilson – guitar, keyboards
- Roger Joseph Manning, Jr. – keyboards
- Lee Pardini – keyboards
- Joey Waronker – drums
- Jessica Wolfe – vocals
- Holly Laessig – vocals
- David Campbell – string arrangements