Psychedelic Pill, by Neil Young and Crazy Horse

While many of his contemporaries have ossified, Neil Young claws at the marrow like a deranged miner, digging deep in ways that confound expectation. He launches his new double album with a track that’s almost 28 minutes long—and that largely revolves around two chords. It’s one of three songs on this nine-track effort that top 16 minutes. That’s hardly the sort of stuff that warms a radio programmer’s heart.

Even when Young goes short, he refuses to play nice. The three-and-a-half minute title track, which recalls Young’s much-beloved “Cinnamon Girl,” uses a flanging effect that makes it sound like it’s doused in a jet engine vapor trail. (An alternate mix removes the flanging; while more accessible, it’s less compelling for the lack of sonic vertigo.)

Yet for all the barriers it puts up, Psychedelic Pill shows off Young’s guts and skill. His tremulous tenor remains untouched by time, and many of his lyrics riff on personal subject matter.

 

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