Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Neil Young: Fork in the Road [Reprise, 2009]
Young's green-car protest album tops his impeach-the-president protest album because he knows more about cars than he does about presidents. In fact, he loves the gas guzzlers of yore so much that he went into the business. His goal: a "heavy metal Continental" that gets 100 mpg on "domestic green fuel." Young's music has never run as smooth as his automobiles, and his Volume Dealers chug along like the reliable transportation they are. But putting his tunes and falsetto into overdrive, he's so into his subject he turns it over 10 different ways. Here be truckers and traffic jams, heroic mechanics and failed bailouts, "the awesome power of electricity" and "cough up the bucks," hoods to get under and worlds to collide. Young sees beyond the "old"--a word that comes up a lot--on-the-road utopianism. But there's not a hint of mea culpa in the guy, or guilt trip either. "Just singing a song won't change the world," he knows that. But songs are his job, and his reserves are apparently inexhaustible. A-