Comment of the Moment: Reviews of "Psychedelic Pill" by Neil Young & Crazy Horse
"Psychedelic Pill" by Neil Young & Crazy Horse
The Comment of the Moment is on album reviews of the new "Psychedelic Pill" by Neil Young & Crazy Horse by D. I. Kertis:
Interesting story: I finally got 'Psychedelic Pill' today.Thanks D.I.! We'll just add that we're really loving PP. DB, RI, & WLAG are wonderful jams by the guys. We think we'll be listening to RI for decades to come it seems to have that timeless feel to it.
(Thing is, it was considerably more difficult than I thought. I ended up getting my copy from a local book and music store. I'm still very attached to the physical product, rather than mp3s. I was trying to get it through Barnes and Noble. They had it available for order online, but when I tried to find it in-store by entering my postal (zip) code, it was listed as "out of stock" at all stores with a 100 hundred mile radius! (Of course, I wasn't going to drive 100 miles even for Neil Young, but I extended my search that far just out of curiosity.)
And all of this happened to me just today, so it sounds like there are definitely some problems with retail delivery for this item at the moment. The street date was right when Hurricane Sandy hit, so that was crappy timing for sure. Although with online shopping these days, it doesn't seem to be getting in the way of sales, interestingly enough. I just wonder how long before some of the poor people in New York get to hear it. The last I heard, there were people out there still without power. Without iTunes and online stores, I suspect this album wouldn't sell as well. Say what you will about mp3s, but it means that people can buy the album without ever having to leave their house or relying on any kind of courier service.
I know the album's been pretty well-received by the critics and the fans so far, and it looks like it is selling well.)
Anyway, 'Psychedelic Pill' is interesting so far, although I've yet to listen fully. As such, I need some more time before expecting any great reflections. When the first track is twenty-seven minutes long, it takes time to work through things. "Driftin' Back" is a little nuts, it has to be said. I like it musically, especially the introduction--which I thought was a clever, engaging switch-up for Neil. It sounds cool and has its groove. The lyrics are on the bizarre side, although some of the earlier comments had me worried that they would be worse than they are. The form and structure are simple if not simplistic, but to be honest, I find it hard to take issue with "Hey, hey, now, now" without also taking issue with "Hey, hey, my, my."
"Driftin' Back" is evidently meant to drift a little, or at least, I doubt that the title is any coincidence knowing Neil. I get the impression it's also meant to sound like a mantra: "Blocking out my anger". It seems to be about the search for something soulful or spiritually genuine in a world where many things are commercialized, superficial, phony, and purely profit-driven, whether the issue is mp3s or organized religion.
"Driftin' Back" seems to be an experiment, lyrically in particular, and I'm glad he did it even though it may have its strengths and weaknesses. By the way, I'm not one of those who finds a twenty-seven minute piece to be especially "self-indulgent" or arrogant. Not when Neil is asking us to devote time to an 85-minute album in the first place.
I'm not going to give up on Driftin' Back like some others have, either.
Whatever Poncho or anyone else was aware of at the time, I don't think Neil wrote the lyrics like that by accident. Just like he wrote 'Fork in the Road' (the song) that way on purpose. Driftin' Back sounds like part mantra and, sometimes, part send-up of rap and other overly simplistic popular music. In the latter regard, it vaguely reminds of Cough up the Bucks. It's a little nuts (not least of all on account of its being twenty-seven minutes long), but it has potential. Neil openly states in the lyric that he's blocking out thoughts and letting feelings through, so it's not going to be one of his most prosaic or lyrically ornate numbers.
I made the mistake of leafing through the booklet while Driftin' Back was playing, and in the process saw a bunch of lyrics without the music, some of which didn't seem very impressive on their own. So I wasn't sure 'Psychedelic Pill', the song, was going to be that great based on lyrics alone, but when I heard the song, it clicked. It was all in what they did with it--the music and concept/arrangement. I love the sound. It reminds me a little of 'Opera Star', but at the same time, I think it's one of the most effective psychedelic throwback songs Neil and the Horse have ever done, which is saying something considering the amount of nostalgia for old times that the relatively recent albums ('Ragged Glory' onwards) have displayed. So, stupid me: I prejudiced myself by looking at lyrics I should have known didn't represent a complete piece of music.
'Psychedelic Pill', the title track, is remarkable just because of how well it evokes the sound and feeling of rock music circa 1970. (I"m talking about the first version here, not the bonus alternate mix, which I have yet to give the attention it's due). 'Ramada Inn' also has its appeal.
Overall, I love the musical sound of the album and it seems to have a groove, but based even on the partial impressions I've been able to gather so far, I'm hesitating to call it five stars yet. Four might be fair, but I really have to give the second disc more attention before I'm in any position to judge. So far, I will say it's not making the same immediate impression that on me that 'Le Noise' did.
Then again, my tastes may be odd.
I prefer 'Sleeps with Angels' over 'Ragged Glory', can actually bear to play 'Are You Passionate?' all the way through now and then, and I'm not one of those who's spent the last ten years saying Neil needed to get back together with Crazy Horse.
Thanks, Neil, for reminding this book worm that there's sometimes more to it than words.