Skip to main content

Enter your email below to be the first to hear about new releases, upcoming events, and more from Dig!

Please enter a valid email address
Please accept the terms
‘The Division Bell’: A Track-By-Track Guide To Pink Floyd’s Bold 90s Comeback
Storm Thorgerson / Warner Music
List & Guides

‘The Division Bell’: A Track-By-Track Guide To Pink Floyd’s Bold 90s Comeback

Reasserting Pink Floyd’s prog-rock mastery in the 90s, the group’s 14th studio album, ‘The Division Bell’, rang in a triumphant comeback.

Back

Released on 28 March 1994, Pink Floyd’s 14th studio album, The Division Bell, marked a welcome return from the legendary progressive rock band. Recorded at various studios, including Britannia Row, in London, and David Gilmour’s houseboat facility, Astoria, the album saw Pink Floyd deliver a work that, almost three decades on from their breakthrough, proved they were still redrawing the boundaries of what it was possible for a band to achieve on record.

Selling over three million copies worldwide, The Division Bell’s unprecedented success led to a huge resurgence in Pink Floyd’s popularity, and the group’s subsequent Division Bell Tour would go on to become one of the highest-grossing tours of all time. As revealed by this track-by-track guide through each of the album’s 11 songs, The Division Bell succeeded in reasserting the group’s cultural relevance and introducing their timeless brand of genre-defining prog-rock to new generations of fans.

Listen to ‘The Division Bell’ here.

‘The Division Bell’ Track-By-Track: A Guide To Every Song On The Album

Cluster One

Coming into orbit with an electromagnetic signal recording of solar winds, Cluster One is a cosmic-sounding instrumental with divine synths reminiscent of Shine On You Crazy Diamond, from 1975’s Wish You Were Here. Calmly drawing listeners in, The Division Bell’s opening track maintains an ethereal vibe throughout, moving from a wave of ambient noise before gentle, twinkling piano tones and brooding guitar riffs guide the track into a light and airy prelude of unparalleled tranquillity. It’s understated proof that nobody does sparse and atmospheric soundscapes better than Pink Floyd.

What Do You Want From Me

Jumping off from a funky Richard Wright organ riff that shares its DNA with the keyboardist’s work on Have A Cigar, What Do You Want From Me makes way for some blues-inspired David Gilmour guitar solos, the song ultimately taking shape as a slow-moving yet breezy rocker. With tightly wound tension, its undulating tempo thoughtfully reflects the push-and-pull of rock-star life depicted in the lyrics (“Should I sing until I can’t sing any more?/Play these strings until my fingers are raw?”). Clearly, such questions are rhetorical, as Gilmour goes on to do just that, bending his strings with an impassioned and sweet-sounding solo.

Poles Apart

With Gilmour’s delicate acoustic guitar riff channelling the spirit of Celtic folk music, Poles Apart is a luxuriant listen among The Division Bell’s songs. As soon as Nick Mason’s assiduous drum groove kicks in and the heart-rending swoop of Richard Wright’s satiny Hammond organ runs come into view, Pink Floyd are at home in one of their trademark bliss-inducing melodies. Echoing the sombre tone of the song’s bittersweet lyrics, Gilmour adds lap steel guitar to the group’s familiar sonic touchstones, finding exciting new ground to explore.

Marooned

Going on to win Pink Floyd their first-ever Grammy Award, for Best Rock Instrumental Performance, Marooned reportedly began life as a wispy series of effervescent improvisations to test out Gilmour’s newly purchased DigiTech Whammy pedal. Later embellished in the studio with beachside sound effects, the instrumental takes on a majestic shape thanks to some stately work from Richard Wright on his Kurtzweil grand piano, while Gilmour unleashes a tidal wave of spur-of-the-moment soloing genius. One of The Division Bell’s finest songs, Marooned is positively sublime.

A Great Day For Freedom

The haunting piano ballad A Great Day For Freedom poignantly reflects upon the fall of the Berlin Wall and its aftermath. With choral backing vocals and Michael Kamen’s grand string arrangements, this song is an exquisite slice of social commentary with a mellifluous guitar solo that mirrors the uncertainty hanging over Europe in early 90s but which nevertheless attempts to smooth over the cracks of political divisions. By capturing such a unique moment in history, A Great Day For Freedom occupies an intelligent and thought-provoking place in Pink Floyd’s wider discography.

Wearing The Inside Out

Reuniting Pink Floyd with saxophonist Dick Parry – the iconic session musician who played on classic tracks such as Money and Shine On You Crazy Diamond – Wearing The Inside Out fully succeeds in recapturing the magic of the group’s landmark mid-70s recordings. The song’s overt jazz flavouring sees keyboardist Richard Wright take the lead vocal, as he had on The Dark Side Of The Moon’s Time and Us And Them. With a glorious swell of keyboards and Gilmour’s guttural guitar solo, Wearing The Inside Out successfully adds new treasures to the group’s past bounty.

Take It Back

Propelled along with swirling use of EBow and pedal effects, Take It Back was released as The Division Bell’s lead single – and it’s easy to see why. Lofty yet serene, the song finds Pink Floyd flexing themselves on a stadium-ready power ballad, shifting effortlessly from the rippling fluidity of its introduction to a gospel-inspired chorus of anthemic chanting. Impeccably produced, Take It Back is a sonic wonder that still sounds state-of-the-art, swooshing around stereoscopically in a cutting-edge display of studio-based mastery.

Coming Back To Life

Beginning with bluesy guitar work emerging from the womb of a lustrous synthscape, Coming Back To Life is full of full-bodied passion, and it contains one of the very best David Gilmour guitar solos. Taking listeners on a romantic journey from the dying embers of a past relationship to the awakening of new love, the song starts with Gilmour pleading for answers over the eerie backing of Richard Wright’s synths, before Nick Mason’s steady but forthright pace prompts the singer to shed his regrets and move on, embracing change by way of a high-spirited performance that soars into the ether like a reborn soul reaching brand-new heights.

Keep Talking

Communication is a recurring theme on The Division Bell, and Keep Talking is a truly heartening moment on the album. Following a philosophical monologue spoken by the physicist Stephen Hawking (“All we need to do is make sure we keep talking”), Gilmour sings of how fear lies at the root of misunderstanding, with call-and-response backing vocals attempting to coax answers out of him. Most notably, the guitarist makes excellent use of the Heil Talk Box last heard on Pink Floyd’s 1977 album, Animals, perfectly underscoring the thematic sentiment of a song that extols the importance of humanity’s need to engage in meaningful dialogue.

Lost For Words

Just as Richard Wright settles into some truly mesmerising, if unsettling, synthesiser work, Lost For Words gives way to the upbeat yet melancholic lilt of David Gilmour’s acoustic guitar. Evoking the same bucolic spirit of the song Wish You Were Here, Lost For Words is a mellow folk ballad full of sorrowful touches and wistful introspection, only briefly interrupted by the sound effects of braying crowds at a boxing match which cleverly contrasts with the gentleness of Gilmour’s vocal delivery. Rarely does music so aptly express the idea of being rendered mute by one’s troubles, but Lost For Words finds art in weary resignation.

High Hopes

With its funereal church bells and glistening piano tones, High Hopes begins by forlornly evoking the pastoral idyll of David Gilmour’s childhood days in Cambridge. Before a sweeping display of dewy-eyed nostalgia, Gilmour reflects upon the loss of youthful innocence (“Beyond the horizon of the place we lived when we were young/In a world of magnets and miracles”), before the song’s chorus erupts into a weighty march through the verdant fields of our dreams (“The grass was greener/The light was brighter”). Easily one of the stand-out songs on The Division Bell, High Hopes is a cinematic triumph that never fails to induce stunned reverence in its listeners.

More Like This

Best Record Store Day 2024 Vinyl: 20 Releases You Need To Buy
List & Guides

Best Record Store Day 2024 Vinyl: 20 Releases You Need To Buy

Incendiary live recordings and an unreleased David Bowie album are essential purchases among the best Record Store Day 2024 vinyl releases.

Best Albums Of 2024: 10 Essential Releases Of The Year
List & Guides

Best Albums Of 2024: 10 Essential Releases Of The Year

From waves of neo-psychedelia to lashings of pop-punk ire, the best albums of 2024 prove this year has been packed with watershed moments.

Sign up to our newsletter

Be the first to hear about new releases, upcoming events, and more from Dig!

Sign Up