Waters' last Floyd album is harrowing and still surprisingly relevant

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A Farewell To Arms

Polarising opinion like no other Pink Floyd release, The Final Cut arrived in 1983 as the relationship between Roger Waters and Dave Gilmour broke down irreparably amid a welter of accusations and recriminations.

This was Waters’ last Floyd album. It’s also, conspicuously, a Waters solo LP, dutifully performed by the band and a clutch of session musicians And so aside from some typically vivid guitar solos from Gilmour on “Your Possible Pasts”, “The Fletcher Memorial Home” and “The Final Cut”, plus a vast array of sound effects from ticking clocks to the seagulls at Southampton dock, there is little connection to the old Floyd, the sweeping melodies and colourful soundscapes that entranced fans throughout the ’70s. Returning to his preoccupation with the military and spreading it across the album, Waters is uncompromisingly, grimly realistic as he rages at the causes and effects of war. It’s not easy listening, particularly with the addition of “When The Tigers Broke Free”: choral, funereal, harrowingly child-like, it relates the true story of his father’s death in WWII. The music is equally stark, often harsh. Waters is so close to your ear, you can hear him cross his “t” s. And despite the dramatic contrasts of “Your Possible Pasts” and “The Gunner’s Dream”, the orchestral arrangements, the odd Eastern flavour, the gospel singers and the thumping singalongability of “Not Now John”, the soundtrack is generally as cheery as its subject matter.

By the time the world ends in a nuclear flash with “Two Suns In The Sunset”, one listener has decided Pink Floyd have turned into a bunch of miserable bastards while another has realised that Waters is offering a piece of himself; something very personal that is also universal and still, surprisingly, valid if for Thatcher and Reagan you read Blair and Bush.