After fifty-plus albums and brushes with everything from folk to doo-wop to punk, Neil Young has drifted back to that folksy hippie sound that first caught our attention so many years ago. This massive two-disc set contains some extended jams that drift between genius and self-indulgence, but no more so than going back to a college reunion and seeing your past through that smudged and distorted mirror. Opener “Drifting Back” clocks in at 27 minutes; it’s a hypnotic ramble with urgent yet gentle lyrics that fade back into your brainstem, and it feels like no time has passed at all. Title track “Psychedelic Pill” is more lecturing and more structured; it’s a solid experience but does over-play the phaser effect.
Another two mega-tracks include “Ramada Inn” and “Walk Like a Giant.” Both explore melancholy regrets of the past and make you think “Lighten up, man. Go protest something. You’ll feel better.” Young is still a vibrant composer and performer, but the years are piling on, and his future can’t be far away anymore. He tried to save us from Styrofoam cups, but ultimately he’s just a guitar player and can’t do everything just because he’s sold a ton of records.
This collection is powerful and introspective. It could have been released right after Everyone Knows This Is Nowhere in 1969, but other projects came up first. Its message is somewhere between “The farther you go, the closer to home you end up” and “Worse things could happen.” It’s very Canadian.
Neil Young: neilyoung.com