Remember when 64-year-old musicians were relegated to rehashing hits aboard Carnival cruise liners? To paraphrase B-Real, Neil Young ain't goin' out like that. On Le Noise, Young teams with über-producer Daniel Lanois for an aural odyssey that takes you anywhere but sun-soaked beaches.
Strumming a filthily distorted guitar, molten and heavy as any in all of stoner-metal, Young sets the sonic and thematic tones with "Walk With Me" as he invites a lover and his audience to follow him, singing, "I'm on this journey/I don't want to go alone." Classic Young subject matter appears from then on: love and loss, drugs and their aftermath, humans affecting the earth, war.
It's the guitar that makes this album a significant stop in the troubadour's storied career. There are no overdubs, but among all the reverb and effects loops it's as if multitudes are playing. For some, the effects may overpower the songs, but for the most part they create a remarkable force juxtaposed against Young's high, lonesome vocals.
However, the acoustic "Love and War" is the album's apex, sounding a quiet release from the histrionics of overdriven guitars and exhibiting the man's most passionate singing. In other words, come for Le Noise, stay for le silence.