“Pink Floyd’s Pop Album” is the best way to describe this 1972 release. Based on the band’s soundtrack for the French film La Vallee, and sandwiched between their more famous, and, indeed, more successful Meddle and Dark Side Of The Moon albums, Obscured By Clouds sees the mighty Floyd momentarily abandoning their prog-rock experimentation and embracing the straight 3-minute pop song.
Whilst not having the lyrical intensity of Dark Side Of The Moon, The Wall, or The Final Cut (possibly the darkest of dark Floyd albums), Obscured still touches on the familiar subject matters of death and misery, as Roger Waters sings on Free Four: The memories of a man in his old age/ Are the deeds of a man in his prime/ You shuffle in the gloom of the sickroom/ And talk to yourself as you die. Surprisingly, though, such moments of desperation are a rarity, and great deal of the tracks are very light-hearted, with Stay even providing the rarest of the rare: a Pink Floyd love song.
There is a dreamlike quality to Obscured, which runs as almost a constant thread throughout its forty minutes, and whilst succeeding in being charming and atmospheric, it occasionally lapses into the mediocre, and, dare I say it: dull, especially with the tedious and bland Burning Bridges, where Richard Wright’s vocal sounds like it has been recorded whilst he was barely conscious. Sleepiness aside, it does actually seem like the band are enjoying themselves here, and the whole album plays like a fun-filled, chilled-out break from the Dark Side Of The Moon sessions, which were running parallel to these.
Although Obscured By Clouds may lack the energy and originality of Floyd’s other early 70s releases, it’s certainly not without its charms, and is an essential addition to any fan’s collection.