Rock's dark shamans, the boys in Floyd, have always been fond of the big gesture. Their trademarks—operatic albums and extravagant tour theatrics—have endured even after frontman Roger Waters left the group in 1985. The band's talent and vision have always stayed a few steps ahead of their pretensions. Until now.
Their strategy remains the same: Dreamy arrangements slowly build until one of David Gilmour's guitar solos rings through with startling clarity.
But the band's arch, dynamic style is undone here by vacuous melodies. Too much of the pale clockwork pop on Division Bell sounds like bad Genesis. Copycat songs like "What Do You Want from Me" suggest an attempt to recapture the mood of their 1973 classic, The Dark Side of the Moon. This is the first Floyd album in three decades that could be described as underproduced. Only a few tracks—"High Mopes" and "Poles Apart"—retain the haunting quality that is the group's signature. So Pink Floyd strikes out, but at least they go down swinging. (Columbia)