This album frequently gets a bad rap from critics (though it seems well-enough appreciated here on rym -- kudos, folks!), which has always puzzled me. Could it be that they were all just pissed off that David Gilmour and Nick Mason continued the Pink Floyd name without Roger Waters, and were therefore determined to dislike the outcome? Whatever. This album is better than the previous Floyd album, the Waters-driven The Final Cut. So there.
Lapse of Reason is pretty heavy, dark stuff -- though it is Pink Floyd, after all, so what else is new? Well, the sheer loudness and crunchiness of most of the tracks here, for one thing. There's only one ostensibly 'cheerful' song, 'Learning to Fly', but even that has distinctly ominous overtones. The rest of the album is all about disasters or horrors of one variety or another, from the personal ('One Slip') to the global ('On the Turning Away'). Don't listen to this album when you're down.
Apparently lots of people find 'The Dogs of War' pretty much unlistenable. So I'd just like to say: what the hell is wrong with you? This is a great song.
The two instrumentals are perhaps the best parts of the album. The opener, 'Signs of Life', is typical Floyd: it starts with some subtle sound effects -- in this case the slow slapping of oars on water -- and builds from there. (They would do even better on The Division Bell's 'Cluster One', though.) And my favorite track is 'Terminal Frost'. I don't know what Gilmour had in mind here, but the track always makes me think of the closing sections of Jon Krakauer's book Into Thin Air, in which mountaineer Rob Hall is dying alone near the Everest summit while his friends talk to him by radio but are powerless to help. Of course, that's clearly not the stimulus for the song, because the book came a decade later than the album. But that's my association. (And if you think that makes 'Terminal Frost' sound dire, well, wait 'til you get to 'Sorrow'. Somebody's having a really bad day there.)
In short: cool album. Very worthwhile. Nice build-up to the utterly mind-blowing Division Bell.