Neil Young

Le Noise (Reprise)

Phases & Stages

Neil Young

Le Noise (Reprise)

From its first chord hit and sustained, distortion displacing air, Le Noise courts Neil Young's classic platters. "I feel your love," begins the forever Bay Area Canadian. "I feel your strong love. I feel the patience of unconditional love." Good thing, too, since we the planet gave that up beginning a half-century ago now. "I feel your faith in me." Sixty-five years Young on Nov. 12, don't-fuck-with-me Scorpio here takes that powerfully unbroken circle and, as with opener "Walk With Me," strips down to his axes and amps while letting producer shaman Daniel Lanois bind, lash, and even drive a sonic spike or two through the naked song king detailed within. Young's act of confession is our saving grace. The decade from 2000 to 2010 marks the same peaks and valleys in his catalog as in U.S. foreign policy: Silver & Gold (2000), Are You Passionate? ('02), Greendale ('03), Prairie Wind ('05), Living With War ('06), Chrome Dreams II ('07), Fork in the Road ('09). Le Noise ranks with the best of them (Prairie Wind), with a wise man's resignation rather than a patriot's indignation (Are You Passionate?, Greendale, Living With War). "Walk With Me" cuts a lyrical path of universality, but heard as Young's acknowledgement of communal dependence, its abrasive convocation sets the scene like open heart surgery. Successor "Sign of Love" ("take it as a sign of love when the winds of fate keep blowing") in guitar tones alone hearkens to Young's most recent Crazy Horse efforts, 1996's Broken Arrow and its live spin-off the following year, Year of the Horse, documented to film by Jim Jarmusch. Even then it's "Love and War," batting cleanup, that lifts Le Noise past the fences. Echoing the steely freedom fighter of 1989's five-star Freedom, with a riff cousin to "My My, Hey Hey (Out of the Blue)" from Freedom's predecessor a decade before, 1979's Rust Never Sleeps, "Love and War" catalogs Young the peacenik at every rung of his comet's tail career in that ageless tenor of vulnerability. "It's an Angry World" falls prey to its own homespun simplicity outside a Redwood-sized electric buzz, but it sets up the twin peak to "Love and War": pharmaceutical tell-all "The Hitchhiker," in which Young thumbs his way through the middle chapter of sex, drugs, and rock & roll only to end up back home with his children and "my faithful wife." Fear and Loathing in Topanga Canyon. That backs into penultimate track "Peaceful Valley Boulevard," a modern haunt evoking Young's own "Cortez the Killer." The guitarist's acoustic picking alone puts "Peaceful Valley Boulevard" in his Halls of Montezuma. Neil Young, Mr. (R)October.

****

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