Review Summary: The best medicine
This June’s Americana
, the drunken-sing-along reunion with Crazy Horse with its sense of distorted nostalgia, didn’t purport to offer any idea as to where a rejuvenated Young wanted to go. The trad folk songs given a typically raucous and occasionally abrasive touch up by some of rock’s great survivors were enough to tide people over. Although it was a nice little curio, many saw it as a play for time before Young made with the original sounds. Without resting on their laurels, Psychedelic Pill
appears a short four months after. The album finds the certified pensioners in fine and ambitious form. Indeed, it takes some gumption to open an album with a 27 minute effort. “Drifting Back” is at once blissed-out, expansive (obviously) and with more than a hint of that trademark lyrical cynicism.
“I used to dig Picasso until they turned him into wallpaper” is just one of the many complaints Young has about a world he doesn’t seem to understand anymore. He rails against the lack of dignity in the crop of ‘modern’ religions that have sprung up intermittently; “Here’s how I got my mantra, gave them 35 bucks now. Gave it to the Maharishi, it went to the organisation.” Even an avowed tech-head like Young can’t wrap his brain around the new music consumer habits; “When you hear my song now you only get five percent. You used to get it all.” Don’t be fooled into thinking Psychedelic Pill
is the sound of some agitated old guy losing his mind on a big old soapbox. Far from it. The album’s titular track is a brazen bull of a tune that marries heavy guitar work with all manner of effects and an obvious influence from groups like Hawkwind.
Spread over two discs, the album is in possession of two more sprawling missives. “Ramada Inn” and “Walk Like A Giant” both clock in at 16 minutes. The former lacks the bite of the record’s opening track; eschewing the bitter modern commentary for a faintly morose retelling of past days that could have been better, but then again, they could have been worse. The latter does exactly what its title suggests; stomping around with reckless abandon and enveloped in those classic Crazy Horse vocal harmonies. The last five minutes of the track crash and burn into a doom-laden noise-fest that takes its time getting to where it wants to go.
is an album of many moods. It veers from cautious optimism, to sadness and to those odd moments where you feel anything’s possible. Young and Crazy Horse continue to run free. Long may it continue.