To all you teenagers with Dark Side of the Moon crop tops from Forever 21: Rejoice. After twenty years of silence, Pink Floyd will release their fifteenth album The Endless River this October. But don’t expect this to be the next Wish You Were Here; despite speculation, this album will not feature the legendary Roger Waters, nor will it include any material written during your lifetime.
The Endless River is based on ambient instrumentals from 1993, when David Gilmour, Nick Mason, and Richard Wright (who died in 2008) recorded Pink Floyd’s last album, The Division Bell.
While new Floyd music is exciting for any music freak, this album announcement is hugely anti-climactic—the news broke when Gilmour’s wife Polly Samson tweeted, “Btw Pink Floyd album out in October…”
Why release old recordings from twenty years ago? It’s the same reason why teenagers wear Nirvana t-shirts and don’t know who Kurt Cobain is: Our generation is crazy for nostalgia, and the evidence is everywhere.
Last month, Led Zeppelin released reissues of their first three albums, earning a 9.2/10 rating from Pitchfork, whose critics are so notoriously harsh that they gave Jet’s “Shine On” a 0.0/10. And instead of writing a review to explain the unprecedentedly low rating, Pitchfork attached a YouTube video of a monkey peeing into its own mouth.
But a band need not be a cemented 70’s classic to generate such nostalgic hysteria. The Libertines, kings of the early 2000s Brit Rock scene, played a reunion show on July 5, but were forced to stop playing twice during the set because the crowd was so dangerously wild. Thirty-eight people were injured by the end of the show.
Various other bands, several past their prime, have also announced reunions recently, like The Kinks, Slowdive, and Blur.
When acclaimed acts reunite, it’s hard to feel shocked anymore—personally, I’m giving it about five years until Noel and Liam Gallagher of Oasis finally decide that they can tolerate each other enough to occupy the same room.
But that’s how powerful rock music is. Even burnt-out musicians feel nostalgic for their glory days—after all, how do you go from headlining international music festivals to driving your kid to soccer practice?
I’m still a bit confused as to why people who have never listened to The Doors will pay to wear Jim Morrison’s face on their chest. I have to admit that I get annoyed sometimes when my classmates wear Abbey Road t-shirts, yet don’t know what the Abbey Road Medley is. But I’ve realized that when people wear Forever 21 Beatles crop tops, they aren’t celebrating that soul-sucking George Harrison guitar solo—they’re celebrating the spirit of classic rock. And that’s okay.
In the height of its popularity, rock music developed on the foundations of freedom and rebellion, which are incredibly easy to romanticize. We dream about what it must have been like to hear Jimi Hendrix play the Star Spangled Banner at Woodstock, we scour the racks at Goodwill, searching for the perfect pair of old dad jeans to bleach-dye and cut into trendy high-waisted shorts, and we spend twenty dollars a piece on vinyl records that we can stream for free on Spotify. There’s just something so enrapturing about the past that our generation cannot escape, which is why reunion albums and gigs are so common.
I’d be lying if I said that I was aloof to this trend. I started collecting vinyl when I was fifteen and found my dad’s old record collection, rife with Talking Heads, Electric Light Orchestra, and naturally, Pink Floyd. I spent the majority of high school scoffing at my classmates who had never listened to The Smiths and Joy Division—they just didn’t understand the complexity of my emotions, you know? But I don’t think I listened to these bands solely because I liked their music. Part of the appeal was the chance to feel like a part of something far bigger than I could possibly imagine.
The Endless River may not become the best album of 2014 (cough—Lazaretto by Jack White—cough), but it will surely be an interesting release to check out, so long as you keep an open mind. Whether or not you end up playing the album in your car for months, The Endless River is going to be epically historic. Even the album’s name pays a nostalgic homage to Pink Floyd’s prolific past; The Endless River references one of the last lyrics on “High Hopes,” the final song on The Division Bell. David Gilmour sings, “The dawn mist glowing/The water flowing/The endless river/Forever and ever.”
Oddly enough, those lyrics sum up the legacy of classic rock—no matter how far modern music deviates from its roots, Dark Side of the Moon t-shirts are still going to be in style for the next several decades. There are generations and generations to come of out-casted teenagers who will worship The Wall like a bible and run home after school to download bootlegged Floyd recordings from the 80’s. But the most exciting thing about music is that you never know when the next legendary band will emerge. Who knows? They may be touring in your city next week.