Critics Go GaGa Over New Neil Young Album Le Noise
With ever increasing intensity as the release of Neil Young's Le Noise approaches, critics are waxing rhapsodic over the album.
Reading some of the latest reviews, we find ourselves shaking our heads at critics (and even some "fair weather music fans" too) for re-discovering Neil Young's unique charms and peculiar fondness for turning expectations on their heads. As if Neil has somehow re-emerged from the shadows of creativity and returned to form.
As David Geffen would say, "Neil Young is finally back making Neil Young music again."
From a must read review in The Guardian | Neil Young: Le Noise | CD review | Music by Alexis Petridis:
This time, however, an old song works, partly because it doesn't overshadow everything around it: Hitchhiker was written around the time of 1992's Harvest Moon, but fits far better here alongside Rumblin's dark intimations of nameless dread and the uncertainty and cynicism of Angry World than with Harvest Moon's aura of middle-aged contentment: 'Everything's gonna be alright yeah,' he sings, sounding exactly like the nervous, abrasive young man who screamed at his hippy fans to wake the fuck up in the early 70s.
A weird lyric even by the standards of a man given to writing songs about riding a llama across Texas in order to smoke weed with Martians, it details the various drugs that Young took at different junctures in his career – 'then I tried amphetamines' – before inexplicably bursting into the chorus of an entirely different song, Like An Inca. Perhaps he figured that, as Like An Inca came at the end of his synth-pop experiment, Trans, an album all but the doughtiest listener bails out of pretty quickly, no one would actually notice. Hitchhiker seems of a piece with two earlier slices of ponderous and troubled autobiography, 1970's Helpless and 1973's Don't Be Denied.
But while the former found solace in the 'dream comfort memories' of childhood, and the latter in Young's own obstreperousness, here there's no relief: just a despairing howl of bewilderment and fear at encroaching old age – 'I've tried to leave my past behind, but it's catching up with me' – then Young's voice, spookily looped into incomprehension over a final, doomy chord.
From Irish Independent | Music: Neil Young by John Meagher:
Anyone under the mistaken impression that Young's best days are behind him needs to hear the album's six-minute centrepiece, Love and War. Clearly autobiographical, the song packs a devastating emotional punch as Neil's rasping vocals sing of the utter futility of war. It's a fantastic song -- in its own way as special as The Needle and the Damage Done.
Lyrically, Young is on the top of his game. There isn't a wasted word, especially on the self-referencing Hitchhiker. 'I was living on the road/A little cocaine went a long long way/To ease that different load/But my head did explode.'
From CraveOnline.com | Neil Young: Le Noise "A modern-grit reflective masterpiece from the godfather of grunge" by Johnny Firecloud:
The resulting sound is fantastic, a fullness that serves as the train on which we're taken to a place of renewed vitality from a man known for his searing meditations on planetary ruin and the quest for true love's compassion in a sea of empty hearts. Staying true to the emotion of the moment was crucial to the recording, which took place over the span of four full moons.
The revitalization of focused purpose is immediately apparent in opener "Walk With Me," a high-stepping yet prickly love song where the tenderness is more of a scar than an entry point. At the three minute mark, just before the song dissolves into a beautifully dissonant mess of loops, blips and reverb, you can hear Young lament, “I lost some people I was travelling with, I miss the soul and the old friendship”. Bereavement is the subtle flavor here, the ever-shifting cloud beneath the water's surface that gives Le Noise a subtle poignance.
There's a stark vulnerability to the album that evokes Dylan's magnificent Time Out Of Mind, determinedly moving forward despite the lingering pain of cruel reality. The weight of mortality is far more than a mere dramatic device; within the last year, two of Young’s closest friends and collaborators died - filmmaker Larry “L.A.” Johnson and multi-instrumentalist/producer Ben Keith. Keith’s death leaves a hole in Young’s touring band that's forever altered the icon's live performance.
From Los Angeles Times:
At times, the sound heats up, as on the earnest “Walk With Me” and the Bo Diddley-touched “Rumblin'.” But in general, this is an easy album to enjoy, something not always true of Young’s recent output. The treatments Lanois gives Young’s raw performances don’t distract from their basic emotional tone, and if the lyrics sometime seem simplistic, Young’s worn, gentle vocals lend them an authenticity that’s neither showy nor dogmatic. He revisits his favorite themes, from marriage and the pull of family to the ecological fate of the Earth, without fussing over them. “Le Noise” is not an epic -– if it were a book, you could read it in an afternoon -– but it’s statement enough from a man who’s already said so much.
From a rather poorly researched article that calls Neil a former heroin user and gets birthday wrong in Wall Street Journal | Neil Young, Le Noise, With Producer Daniel Lanois by Jim Fusilli: (Thanks Stringman!)
Mr. Lanois called Mr. Young's electric guitar playing an 'extreme excursion from one tone to another, from wet to bone-dry.'
'Bob Dylan likes how I play my guitar,' Mr. Young said. 'But he always says to me, 'How do you do that? How do you sing and makes those sounds?'
'I like the sound of an electric guitar when it feeds back. I like to use all those gizmos and combinations.'
'Your secret is turning up loud and playing light,' Mr. Lanois said from across the table.
'That's right,' Mr. Young replied. 'That makes it smaller and harsh. It really resonates.' On 'Le Noise,' he added, 'You feel the guitar. You hear the words, but you feel the guitar. The guitar is volcanic.'
Asked if 'Le Noise' had a lyrical theme, Mr. Young said no. But for the new album, he continues to consider the themes of mortality and aging, subjects he's been writing about recently with increasing frequency—natural enough for a man his age. Love and appreciation for family and friends is another reccurring motif. But Mr. Young said he never knows what his songs will be about until he's in the process of writing them.
Seeing Mr. Young up close in a new setting creates a new context for our relationship with his music. It may do so for some of his notable peers as well.
'What do you think Bob's going to think of this album?' Mr. Young asked Mr. Lanois, referring to Mr. Dylan, for whom he produced two albums.
'He's going to love it,' Mr. Lanois replied with a wide grin.
Satisfied, Mr. Young nodded. 'Yeah. He'll love it.'
(Click to Zoom Cover)
Release Date: September 28, 2010
More on Neil Young's New Album 'Le Noise'. Also, see:
- NEW LE NOISE VIDEO: Neil Young's "Love And War" on YouTube
-Le Noise: "It's a keeper" Tweets Critic Greg Kot
-Stream Neil Young's Entire Album Le Noise on NPR
-Neil Young and Daniel Lanois click on 'Le Noise' - latimes.com
-NEW LE NOISE VIDEO: "Hitchhiker"
-Comment of the Moment: Le Noise's "Sonics"
-Neil Young Interview on Le Noise: "It sounded like God"
- Producer Daniel Lanois Discusses Making of "Walk With Me" + UNCUT Review (UPDATED)
- Video of Neil Young's "Angry World" from Le Noise
- Neil Young's Le Noise: "Just a man on a stool"
- "Imagination never sleeps": Neil Young's Le Noise
- NPR Previews Neil Young's Le Noise's "Walk With Me"
- Dead Man Soundtrack: Preview of Le Noise?
- Anticipating Neil Young's album Le Noise
Also, see all of Neil Young's Solo Electric Concert Tour Dates and Reviews.
And, FWIW, pre-orders for Le Noise by Neil Young are already ranked at