When most people hear the name Pink Floyd, they associate them with their famous The Dark Side of the Moon album, one of the most renowned albums of all time. However, the band's debut album reflects none of the progressive rock genius that will, eventually, showcase itself on their most popular album. The Piper at the Gates of Dawn reflects the musical elements of their previous singles, Arnold Layne, which is about a transsexual who likes to steal women's clothing from washing lines, and See Emily Play, which is about a girl that Syd Barret met after waking up in the woods after a gig one time (although it is unclear whether the girl was real, or was just a drug-induced hallucination.)
This was the first, and last, album under the leadership of Syd Barret, who eventually lost his mind and was kicked out early 1968. Although Barret would contribute to their second album, A Saucerfull of Secrets, he was not the main director of it. The change of direction definitely shows, as the 'Pink Floyd Prog Rock' sound was emerging by the time they released their second album.
However, this album is all psychedelic, without even a trace of progressive rock sound, which was heavily inspired by The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, which had been released shortly before The Piper at the Gates of Dawn. However, this album really shows Syd Barret's musical genius. Most of the songs are written in odd time signatures (which was a fairly rare thing for the time) and some songs even changed time signatures several times. The real winners on this album are Astronomy Domine, Interstellar Overdrive (one of the few songs in 4/4 time on the album), and Bike. While the album does sport some not quite up to par songs, most of the songs are quite decent, especially for a debut album. The only song that could really be called 'bad' on the album is Roger Waters' first songwriting attempt, Take Up Thy Stethoscope and Walk. Even though the song is pretty bad, it definitely foreshadows some of the lyrical and musical content that will be found in later songs, such as Comfortably Numb.
Lyrically, this album is a black sheep, of sorts, for Pink Floyd, as most of the songs are witty, as opposed to their serious material later on in their career. The lyrical content ranges from space to scarecrows, and it is all done in a very witty style (for the epitome of this, see The Gnome.)
Overall, while definitely not one of Pink Floyd's best albums, this albums is above average, especially for a debut album.
(7 out of 10)