Neil Young
World Record



by SpiridonOrlovschi USER (17 Reviews)
November 22nd, 2022 | 3 replies

Release Date: 11/18/2022 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Neil Young's latest album is a lyrically flawed but musically eloquent analysis of the global stage and international anxiety.

When Frank Sampedro left Crazy Horse, Neil Young’s arrangements lost a significant part of the instrumental density that gave a memorable aggressiveness to his music. As a result, "Barn" was a pretty, but bland album with some exceptional compositions. In 2022, Neil Young released a manifest record, a sort of psychedelic-nuanced radiography of the times we live in. "World Record" tries to fit with the social and political context, focusing on such topics as war and global warming from the point of view of an aging hippie.

The first thing that differentiates "World Record" from "Barn" is the quality of the arrangements and production. Rick Rubin does with this album what he did with Santana's "Africa Speaks." He gives the work conceptual weight and a vibrant sound which lacked in previous attempts. If albums made after "Colorado" didn’t have great mixing and impressive production, "World Record" shows an energetic sound that reminds of Neil Young’s nineties period.

Furthermore, the songs present a style of composition that charmingly blends the old and the new and creates a sort of tie with the actual alternative scene. If Neil Young shared the alter ego of a farmer in "Barn," and "Storytone" was conducted by the feeling of old age, "World Record" demonstrates in a brave tone why we regard Neil as the godfather of grunge. The melodic lines oscillate between tenderness and roughness as they did in the golden times, the sound is aggressive and echoic and Nils Lofgren's guitar tone refuses to feel shallow and colorless. Also, the fluctuation between abrasive guitar-led songs and piano-oriented ones gives the album a much-needed variety, making "World Record" an essential reevaluation of the singer’s career.

"World Record," aided by a slew of memorable songs written in a variety of styles, attempts to review the world stage, sounding like a hippie-infused take on international décor. This method deprives the album of finely crafted lyricism. It often succumbs to forgettable (and aged) meditations over climate and war. After the first three songs, the lyrics become dull, like a hippie replica of the colorful Bruce Springsteen’s working-class poetry. Everything is about peace and war, the ruling class, and global warming. On "Break The Chain," the only lyrical structure is a ritualistic repetition of the title, but these sorts of experiments simply don’t function in Neil Young's lyrics. The repetitiveness of motifs like "lovers walking hand in hand in a peaceful world" and "preserve the Earth for the future generations" fails to raise any interest. Of course, the themes benefit from a decent craft and don’t relate to the larger-than-life conspiracy theories preached by Van Morrison, but they don't fit with the point of view of the actual society. I think the album needed a poetic equilibrium. Slogans like "no more weapons" and "no more war, only love" now have the altered hippie flavor of a David Crosby record. The album simply feels like an example of poor and old-fashioned communication with the public from the one who long ago preached the change with: "The king is gone, but he's not forgotten/This is the story of a Johnny Rotten."

If we analyze only the music, we are left with a charming record that begs for multiple spins. If the lyrics are old-fashioned, the music remains bewitching. The melodic lines are admirably refined, and the arrangements give a lively sound to the entire musical conception. Also, the contrast between the melodies is beautifully founded on an unpredictable cursiveness. "Overhead" presents a rhythmic change punctuated by an organ echo that simply frees the blues line from monotony. "I Walk With You" shares the spirit of the feedback-dominated masterwork "Mother Earth" and "Chevrolet" is a sumptuous variation over a memory. Also, "Chevrolet" remains the only moment with a retrospective lyricism that rises above the missed themes of the previous songs, sounding as raw as everything on "Sleeps With Angels" or "Mirror Ball."

Although "World Record" falls short of being the desired radiography of contemporary turmoil, it remains an efficient review of Neil Young's entire career. Without having the character of an impressive call to protest, it is a great remembrance of the energy, refinement, and sheer beauty of the author's consecrated albums. Like the cover, which represents a photograph showing an elegantly dressed and very young Neil Young heading confidently somewhere, "World Record" is a definite and dynamic revisit of his creative phases. Despite poor lyricism, the songs have an expressive force that transforms them into powerful moments touched by an electric folk charm.

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user ratings (2)

Comments:Add a Comment 
November 22nd 2022


Very nice review, hoping to do a Neil Young discography run one day but that's certainly gonna be an adventure when I decide to do it.

November 23rd 2022


I wish there were many more Neil Youngs in the world. It would be a much better place

November 23rd 2022


Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

Nice review and I agree with much of what you say. Lyrics so so, instrumentation and production first rate.

One correction though, that is Neils old boy on the cover.

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