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Neil Young: Le Noise

Come on feel le noise.

Even for a man whose work-rate rarely dips below prodigious, Neil Young has been uncommonly busy of late – nine albums in five years, hefty touring schedules and the arrival of his Archives project.

Le Noise keeps the motor running in often spectacular style, a fact made even more impressive given its basic fuel: just Neil, a couple of guitars and producer Daniel Lanois’s handy box of FX.

There’s a palpable feel of urgency, of raw spontaneity, about these eight songs, most of which were first unloaded on his recent Twisted Road tour. In many ways too, given its crunching power chords and splenetic energy, it’s the solo album us Neilers have been craving for years.

Only two tunes – Love And War and Peaceful Valley Boulevard – are acoustic. The former is expertly picked out on Spanish guitar, Young documenting a lifetime of railing against oppression, while the latter taps into one of his recurring themes: impending ecological doom. That’s not to say that this is some weighty political opus. Le Noise is, in fact, a highly personal, uplifting record that hisses, fizzes and booms in all the right places.

Walk With Me alludes to the recent death of longtime collaborator LA Johnson, but it’s as defiant as it is impassioned. Sign Of Love, with distorted echoes and squidgy electronica, is equally bullish. And caps in the air for finally including the wonderful Hitchhiker – a nakedly autobiographical tale kept largely hidden since 1975 – on a studio LP.

Time, it seems, has only strengthened his resolve. Long may he run, as someone once said.

Rob Hughes
Rob Hughes

Freelance writer for Classic Rock since 2008, and sister title Prog since its inception in 2009. Regular contributor to Uncut magazine for over 20 years. Other clients include Word magazine, Record Collector, The Guardian, Sunday Times, The Telegraph and When Saturday Comes. Alongside Marc Riley, co-presenter of long-running A-Z Of David Bowie podcast. Also appears twice a week on Riley’s BBC6 radio show, rifling through old copies of the NME and Melody Maker in the Parallel Universe slot. Designed Aston Villa’s kit during a previous life as a sportswear designer. Geezer Butler told him he loved the all-black away strip.