Floyd's audience makes it clear it was more than willing to embrace the band even without Waters' challenging words. Gilmour, grateful for their patronage, seems afraid of pissing off the fans with a new direction. This time, he's avoided glaring and pretentious missteps like last album's "Dogs of War" (voted by the Floyd fanzine The Amazing Pudding as very worst song of all time). But the decision to pattern much of this album after Wish You Were Here (voted by the same fanzine as its all-time favorite album) smacks of market research.

Wish You Were Here began with four notes played over and over until the drums kick in at 4:26. On TDB, plotting the same coordinates, drummer Nick Mason awakens on his drum stool at precisely 4:27. That's progress for you.

"Cluster One," the one-part "Echoes"/two-parts "Crazy Diamond" opening piece, segues into "What Do You Want From Me," yet another Waters-treading exercise. This photocopy will probably fool Roy Harper, the man who sang vocals on "Have a Cigar," into thinking he's got another royalty check coming. Just to ensure that even the brain-dead can't miss the point that they are listening to Pink Floyd, Rick Wright hauls out those same cheesy, synth/horn sounds he used on "Shine On, Part IX." Not to mention more stock-in-trade sound effects, like the superimposing of boxing-ring noises over a song about quarreling. If the band wants to revive old Floyd stylings, how about trying a fast song? We haven't had anything with more than 44 beats per minute since Piper's "Lucifer Sam."
If the new album sounds too melodic and soothing to the ear, it's because this is Pink Floyd as seen through adult-contemporary eyes. When it's good (Cluster One," "Wearing the Inside Out"), it could almost be mistaken for Sade. When it's bad (Keep Talking," "High Hopes"), it could be--ugh!--Mike and the Mechanics.

Pink Floyd, from its earliest days, has always been about exploration, experimentation and excess. For all of Barrett's and Waters' faults, they, at least, defied even their harshest critics to ignore them.

Gilmour, like a guitar-pickin' Sally Field, just wants people to like him. The Division Bell confirms that his voice and guitar are the sound and soul of Pink Floyd's music. Now if it only had a brain.

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