Neil Young is, for the lack of a better word, insane. But that’s why we love him, right? His music is turbulent and fierce, always engaging the listener with apocalyptic discourse that’s both surreal and rather grim, and his image is iconic. Just by looking at him, one could assess that not everything’s all together with the ol’ Canadian songwriter. He looks like an ex-grunge rocker, and even though he’s pushing sixty-four years of age, he carries it off like a teenager. So, it should come as no surprise that he’s just as angsty and bitter as one, too.
To bring you up to speed, Young is months away from delivering another album. If you haven’t kept count, this will be the thirty-first solo album of his career. Titled Fork in the Road, the new record sees Young working around a unique, if not ridiculous, concept: eco-friendly cars. Okay, so you’re probably scratching your head and thinking, “Um, what?” We’re at a loss, too. But if you feel like making sense of it, try referring to his recent video of the titular track. Not enough? Then perhaps some commentary by the Village Voice‘s Rob Harvilla, who recently saw Young on tour, will help you.
“Less agreeably, though, such brevity only leaves more time for one of his new songsand his new songs, I regret to inform you, are absolutely terrible.”
“Nonetheless, these new tunes are disturbingly beef-witted: Endless exhortations to “Fill ‘er up!”; mindless refrains of “Cough up the bucks!” (which I misheard the first 200 or so times as “Cough up the bugs,” which fits the imagery better, actually); starry-eyed tributes to “the awesome power of electricity”; lots of driver’s-ed-instruction-as-societal-imperative (“I turn my signal on and look both ways”). The closest thing to a clever line is “She looks so beautiful with her top down,” which, well . . . The music, too, chugs mindlessly along, the awkward sloganeering weighing down the boilerplate top-down rock ‘n’ roll highway bravado with 10 pounds of syllables in a five-pound bag.”
Maybe thirty-one albums are enough, maybe Young has watched An Inconvenient Truth too many times (conspiracy theorists might argue that Al Gore paid him off), or maybe he’s just out to make something for the sake of making it. Regardless, the new album will undoubtedly push back the release of his mega hyped release, Archives Vol. 1, which is sure to bring fans to tears…especially if they’re left with, well, this.
Hey, we can always listen to Freedom, right? Sheesh.
“Fork in the Road”