Psychedelic PillAlbum | Neil Young By Stewart Mason
We forgive them for Americana.
Early in 2012, Neil Young alerted the world that he had reunited with Crazy Horse by posting a video of an epic, endless studio jam that showed off the band's hive-mind ability to keep a listener's interest through a half-hour of what in lesser hands would just be aimless noodling. And then they released Americana, a half-baked -- likely in both senses of the term -- collection of old campfire-singalong folk songs that was quite possibly Young's worst album ever. The near-instantaneous follow-up Psychedelic Pill is not as good as Americana is bad, but it's a huge step in the right direction. And the right direction for the Horse is toward scrappy, sloppy, feedback-driven rock. Shaggy and loose, but disciplined enough to maintain forward momentum, the two-disc, eight-track set features four relatively concise, lyric-driven songs with a reflective feel in keeping with Young's concurrently-released autobiography Waging Heavy Peace. But it's the four extended tracks -- which cover all but about 15 minutes of the set's nearly hour-and-a-half length -- that are the real heart of the album, and each one hits the mark. The hypnotic "She's Always Dancing" sounds like it could have been recorded in the same session that spawned "Like A Hurricane," and the valedictory "Walk Like A Giant," whistled chorus and all, manages to sound painfully sad and heroically uplifting at the same time. But it's the 27-minute-plus opener "Driftin' Back" that's the biggest surprise: heavy-riffing and powerful, it also has a transporting lightness (buoyed by some surprisingly sweet harmonies) that recalls prime "Eight Miles High"-era Byrds. Early buzz that compared Psychedelic Pill to early Crazy Horse classics like Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere and Zuma was fueled by wishful thinking. But it's easily the most purely Crazy Horse-like record they've created since that golden age.
|Walk Like A Giant|