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Neil Young

“Le Noise”


★★★ 1⁄ 2

Neil Young is an ex­per­i­men­tal artist work­ing in a pop mode; he wants his mu­sic to be rel­e­vant, but he doesn’t care about ei­ther prov­ing him­self great or stay­ing hip, the usual stum­bling blocks for ag­ing baby boomer rock stars. Young just wants to hear how some­thing (a choir, an R&B band, a con­cept like the his­tory of au­to­mo­biles) sounds when it col­lides with his fun­da­men­tal warped-folk sound. A strong sense of en­ti­tle­ment, the bane of many in his gen­er­a­tion, is his ace in the hole. Not car­ing what any­body thinks keeps him at­tuned to him­self.

He does make room for col­lab­o­ra­tors, though, and on “Le Noise,” his 34th solo stu­dio al­bum, he en­gages in a clar­i­fy­ing di­a­logue. Young recorded the tracks in the Sil­ver Lake home of pro­ducer Daniel Lanois, us­ing just his voice and mostly elec­tric gui­tar; the stu­dio mas­ter then remixed and en­hanced them. The re­sult lands in the same ball­park as work by younger artists such as Joseph Arthur or even Best Coast, though the mood is more re­flec­tive.

At times, the sound heats up, as on the earnest “Walk With Me” and the Bo Did­dley-touched “Rum­blin’.” But in gen­eral, this is an easy al­bum to en­joy, some­thing not al­ways true of Young’s re­cent out­put. “Le Noise” is not an epic — if it were a book, you could read it in an af­ter­noon — but it’s state­ment enough from a man who’s al­ready said so much.

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