14. Poles Apart - The Division Bell
Despite, or perhaps because of, the continued absence of bassist Roger Waters, The Division Bell felt more like a full band effort than anything Pink Floyd had done since the mid-Seventies, with Dave Gilmour, Nick Mason and Richard Wright all making important contributions. Though even a newly democratic approach was not without difficulties and Wright nearly left the project, upset at not being a full band member, contractually.
For some groups, lyrics about intra-band relationships might sound indulgent but with such a storied and difficult history, it’s intriguing to hear Dave Gilmour’s side of things as he sings about Syd Barrett and Roger Waters on Poles Apart.
Never the most confident lyricist, Gilmour enlisted the help of his wife, the novelist Polly Samson, to pen this mediation on the band’s two departed members; the doomed golden boy and the steely eyed bassist.
All of this plays out against a dreamy pop backdrop before halfway through the backing track drops out entirely to make way for a passage where Wright’s key evoke a spooky fairground. Then it’s one more go around for the chorus before an extended guitar solo. The cliched take on progressive music is that it’s pompous, indulgent and overblown but Gilmour’s playing at the end of Poles Apart is a melodic delight.