Neil Young - Le Noise
Neil Young has always been one to throw a curveball at his audience every now and then and 'Le Noise' certainly fits into that category. Daniel Lanois produces and the concept of just Neil and his electric guitar would appear to be an attempt to capture the raw essence of what makes Neil Young. Sure, the treated guitars and echoey vocals irritate in places and I suspect 'Le Noise' will go down as a bit of a marmite release within the Young fanbase. You have to wonder though which other 60 something musician still has the ability not only to surprise, but also to provoke? 'Walk With Me' and 'Sign Of Love' certainly don't make it easy - the two songs flowing into each other with droning vocals and seemingly random guitar stabs before 'Sign Of Love' somewhat flatly flows by without really registering at all. Still, the album thankfully improves after this somewhat upsetting opening brace of 'tunes'. Well, we stay in mid-tempo, we pass through the stark dirge of 'Someone's Gonna Rescue You' before 'Love And War' reminds us how good Neil can still be. The guitar is still there, a lone electric voice, quieter than before as Neil sings properly, writes actual melodies and presents lyrics with meaning. 'Le Noise' remains at this stage 'a sad' album though, you wouldn't put it on at a party or even put it on right after 'Rust Never Sleeps'. 'Le Noise' radiates cold rather than warmth, something I suspect that happens when you have the harsher electric rather than warmer acoustic to accompany Neil throughout the album.
'Hitchhiker' is a great Neil Young track you know will work live, even though here it's just anguished, angry, biting Neil plus guitar doing the same - with basic drums and bass adding depthness to the sound this would be classic Neil Young, no doubt. Then we discover though 'Hitchhiker' dates back to the 'Trans' era and was actually played live throughout the 1992 tour. Yeah, and i've just called it the best song on the album so far? Yeah, sorry about that Neil. Didn't mean to deliberately suggest your new songs aren't a patch on the old. 'Rumblin' closes the album out, it begins with a definite Lanois touch of texture before Neil creates the exact same guitar tones and distortion and general lack of finese musically he's done almost everywhere else on the album. All in all, this is an interesting Neil Young album rather than a particular good one, yet equally, you have to admire this. It cools you down in summer and spring but sounds like ice when listened to during the cold winter nights. A mood piece, certainly.
Walk With Me / Sign Of Love / Someone's Gonna Rescue You / Love And War / Angry World / Hitchhiker / Peaceful Valley Boulevard / Rumblin'