“Picture a shithouse with no fucking drains/Picture a leader with no fucking brains,” snarls Roger Waters near the start of his first proper rock LP in nearly 25 years, unsubtle as a hammer between the eyes. But the grim charm of this set, a 12-track dystopian concept LP that makes The Wall read like Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, is precisely his emeritus off-the-leash ranting, a fitting response to the stench and stupidity of our present moment.
This The Life We Really Want? is
not without humor. It opens with the old rock star imaging his first act as
God: undoing the longterm effects of alcohol on his face (priorities, people!)
Elsewhere, classic song allusions flicker sardonically (“Wish you were
here in Guantanamo Bay!”) But from the redacted-text package design
forward, it’s a relentlessly dark image-feed: drone warfare (“Déjà Vu”),
forced parent-child separations (“The Last Refugee”), the gluttony of
the American dream (“Broken Bones”), the psychosis of terrorism (“Smell
The Roses”) – pretty much the nightly news. The music is quintessential
post-Dark Side Of The Moon Floyd, but channeled by offspring:
Producer Nigel Godrich brings prog-rock grandeur, multi-instrumentalist
Jonathan Wilson microdose psychedelia, Lucius alt-R&B backing vocals. A
greater sense of these collaborators’ styles would be welcome. Otherwise, it’s
precisely what a Trump-era Roger Waters LP should be.