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Psychedelic Pill is a flat-out guitar record, and it’s one of the best ones you’ll ever hear.
Having spent so much time revisiting his past, the sounds Neil Young explores on Psychedelic Pill evoke Canada and his roots more than any other of his recordings. It’s difficult to describe, for even though there’s nothing overtly Canadian (other than the rather obviously titled “Born in Ontario”) in the lyrics, there’s something deeply Northern in the flow of the wordless emotional passages in the longer songs that captures the vastness of the prairie and the depth of the woods in a way that couldn’t be conjured by someone from anywhere else.
The music on Psychedelic Pill is physical; it’s sonic sculpture that the listener can almost reach out and grab. And though it’s completely recognizable as Crazy Horse music, there’s something new in the sound, a focus and sharpness that has often been missing in the past. Whether it’s a result of Neil Young’s decision to quit smoking pot after almost 50 years of toking or it’s simply the fact that the clock is ticking and life’s too short for any more bad records, is beside the point.
For those people who were disappointed with some of Neil Young’s latest offerings and have been with Crazy Horse through all of their good, bad and ugly phases, Psychedelic Pill is the record that everyone hoped the band would be able to pull off. This is no gloriously sloppy, ‘bad notes and all’ romp through inconsequential territory; Psychedelic Pill’s intensity is unrelenting from beginning to end. Finally, Crazy Horse has been taken to a new dimension that encompasses everything it has done before, with the customary fog replaced by a disarming focus that is almost piercing.