The aptly named double album “Psychedelic Pill” finds legend Neil Young, backed by his longtime collaborators Crazy Horse, rocking out with familiar sounds.
For classic rock acts, the temptation to revisit the styles that defined their early output can sometimes be as troublesome as straying too far from them. This is true of guitar god Young.
2010’s “Le Noise” was a meandering mess, and its predecessor, 2009’s “Fork in the Road,” was decidedly minor. Luckily, with this release being Young’s 35th studio album, Young sounds invigorated to be playing with his bandmates in Crazy Horse, even more so than on “Americana,” their collaboration from earlier this year.
The 27-minute opener “Driftin’ Back” finds Young bemoaning modern technology, while his spiky leads punctuate the steady rhythm with bursts of barely controlled feedback.
Fans of Crazy Horse’s contributions to Young’s early work, especially the seminal live album “Rust Never Sleeps” (1979), will find a lot to love and recognize on this track and throughout “Psychedelic Pill.”
“Born in Ontario” is a light, country-infused song, and “For the Love of Man” pleasantly slows things down a bit.
The album’s main flaw is its tendency to go a little clumsily between long tracks and shorter ones, making “Psychedelic Pill” feel a bit rhythmless. Young, an evocative, if occasionally heavy-handed, lyricist, can go overboard on the nostalgia (such as on “Twisted Road”). But these criticisms are minor.
Those who prefer the heavier stuff will be pleased to find “Walk Like a Giant” holding up the back end. The pummeling track, and “Psychedelic Pill” as a whole, finds Neil Young & Crazy Horse doing what it does best: rockin’ in the free world.