OLD REVIEW DUMP #2: THE SQEAKUAL (4/7)
More continues to be unjustly overlooked. Not that I was expecting to impact the world or anything, but after really immersing myself in it and complimenting it to high heaven, I feel entitled to SOMEONE else gushing about it.
Anyway, the review is mediocre. I’ve got some good description and critique in here, but mostly it feels like I’m going through the motions. I had set up a very comfortable routine for myself (Complete with the cementing of the running “So let’s…” opening and “And that’s…” closing) and I wasn’t really putting in the effort to make my writing anything special. I’d like each of my reviews to stand out, but aside from it’s oddball subject this one blends into the background. Thankfully, this slog only lasted to Ummagumma before I tried to completely revitalize myself with Funeral. I can only hope I succeeded.
Here it is, in all its…um…moreness?
In a churchyard by a river,
Lazing in the haze of midday,
Laughing in the grasses and the graze
Yellow bird, you are alone
In singing and in flying on,
In laughing and in leaving
Willow weeping in the water,
Waving to the river daughters,
Swaying in the ripples and the reeds
On a trip to Cirrus Minor,
Saw a crater in the sun
A thousand miles of moonlight later
Pink Floyd. Avant-garde French film no one has ever seen. Soundtrack. Sure, why not?
More is a nice, underrated, minor achievement for Floyd. In a time when the band had lost its front man and was struggling to find an identity, soundtracking a film turned out to be a surprisingly good idea. I have no information at all about the movie because I can’t be arsed to look up anything, but the album is extremely enjoyable on its own despite some glaring duds.
I think the thing that impresses me most about this album is just how different it sounds when compared to any other Pink Floyd album. The major styles here are folk rock songs, artsy instrumentals, and balls-out hard rock. That second one is something that Floyd would consistently return to, but the first and third are things you would never think to associate with them. Best of all, they pull off two of those things really well. So yeah, More isn’t a terribly important or revolutionary album, but it’s one that every Floyder should listen to at least once, if only to see the sheer range of these guys.
So let’s get More into it! (I’m sorry, I’ll leave now) “Cirrus Minor” is a pitch-perfect tone setter, combining odd, poetic lyrics with ambient sounds and eventually a cool-sounding organ and sonic effects. This song is thick with a rich, artsy atmosphere, and is nothing short of a pleasure to listen to.
Unfortunately, this is immediately followed by “The Nile Song”, one of the album’s rockers. Allow me to be blunt: this is quite possibly the worst song in Floyd’s ENTIRE CATALOGUE. Of course, “Take Up Thy Stethoscope and Walk” and “Corporal Clegg” are far worse on a technical level, but at least those songs are enjoyable in their badness. Gilmour’s screeching vocals, the pounding playing and stupid lyrics SHOULD add up to another accidental classic like the previously mentioned, but instead it’s just painful. Maybe I’ll be able to get some grotesque enjoyment out of this song after I’ve listened to it as many times as “Stethoscope”, but as of writing this has not happened. Uggggghhhh.
Thankfully, “Crying Song” is much better, a very nice folk song with all the honesty and simplicity that the genre calls for. It doesn’t stand out as a huge milestone or anything, but it’s pleasant. The lyrics skimp on the details, but somehow manage to feel real in spite of it.
Up next is an instrumental piece called “Up The Khyber”, which is pretty good. It sounds almost jazzy at points, and of course brings back that great keyboard that Floyd was so fond of at this point. It’s not that memorable, but still nice while it lasts.
“Green is the Colour” is just lovely. It’s another folk piece, and has all the positives of “Crying Song”, but feels a bit stronger due to more specific and vibrant lyrics. It’s serene, has a nice melody, is sung gently, and generally sweeps you away with its wonderful feel. A true underrated classic, and my favorite vocal song on the album.
“Cymbaline” has similar strengths, but uses them to paint a portrait of a distressing nightmare. It’s here where we find out just how good of a songwriter Waters is. His imagery and emotion are raw and affecting. The music is phenomenal, the vocals fitting, and the writing fantastic. Another underrated classic, edged out only slightly by “Green is the Colour” because that song’s music is better suited to its theme. Sometimes the calm of this song damps down on the imagery a bit, but it’s still fantastic. It also has one of my favorite lyrics of all time: “Will the final couplet rhyme?” The final couplet not only doesn’t rhyme, it’s the ONLY couplet in the song that doesn’t rhyme. Waters, you beautiful man.
“Party Sequence” is a minute long instrumental that closes out side one. It’s got some nifty tribal-sounding instruments, but feels like a bit of a throwaway. Oh well.
Side two opens with “Main Theme”, an atmospheric avant-garde instrumental. It’s really cool sounding, moving through a variety of movements and evoking a meditative, trippy, semi-menacing, semi-beautiful tone. This is my favorite instrumental on the album, one that’s great for writing and brainstorming purposes.
BAM! “Ibiza Bar!” Way to kill the mood, guys. Anyway, it’s another hard rocker, and is only slightly better than “The Nile Song” because the lyrics are actually okay and the vocals are less annoying. On a musical level, it’s just as bad, maybe slightly more tolerable because of the above qualities. Gah.
Thankfully, we can relax with the next song, “More Blues.” True to its name, it’s a short blues instrumental, and truly lounge worthy. It just screams (or asks calmly, with a hint of sarcasm) “Brotha, you gots to CHILL.” Not that distinctive or memorable, but good background music.
“Quicksilver” is a more experimental instrumental, with mixed results. It transitions from dark sound wall to something a bit harsher, with the keyboards and whatnot, and then some lighter sounds. On one hand, there’s some good ambiance here, especially in the first part of the song, but ultimately I was left wanting a bit more style. It offers far too little to even begin to justify its seven-minute length.
“A Spanish Piece” is another minute long instrumental with some Spanish music and a weird but kind of funny Spanish voice in the background. It’s amusing enough, and doesn’t overstay its welcome, so I’ll call it a success.
The album closes with “Dramatic Theme”, an instrumental which starts as the most chill dramatic theme ever before taking the tension up a bit. It’s more or less in the same boat as “Up the Khyber”: nice while it lasts, but nothing to write home about.
And that’s what happens when Floyd and a movie are locked in a room together. It’s not particularly mind-blowing, but it’s a nearly perfect diversion with some really great material, and definitely deserves more attention then it’s gotten. The album all in all has a really pleasant, artsy-but-accessible, thoughtful feel to it, so if you need some background music and skip the horrible rockers, you’re in luck!
One more thing: the ratings below are all really high, but this album still only gets an overall eight. That’s because the album just isn’t all that memorable or thunderous, and features not one but TWO of the worst songs in Floyd history. Usually an album with these ratings would get at least a nine, but it’s really one of those albums that’s simply good because the people who made it were good at their jobs, and nothing deeper. It’s just nuts and bolts, though they are impeccably polished and assembled nuts and bolts.
Listenability: 4/5 I really wanted to give this a five, but the rockers are too abysmal, sorry. With the rockers cut out, it’s a lush and quiet listen.
Themes: 5/5 The songs are all immediately evocative, even the horrible ones. The ones with lyrics touch on some pretty resonant topics.
Lyricism: 4/5 One point off for “The Nile Song.” Waters’ colors are now flying full force!
Diversity: 5/5 There’s a consistent tone, but still a lot of variety, which is a best case scenario.
Resonance: 4/5 Dagnabit stupid rockers, you’re bringing this album down! Anyway, the album wants to sweep you up in its atmosphere, and it succeeds.
FINAL RATING: 8/10 A lush, absorbing experience and true underrated gem, albeit not anything greater than the sum of it’s parts.
Recommended Listening: Green is the Colour, Cymbaline, Main Theme, Cirrus Minor, Crying Song