Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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NEIL YOUNG
Fork in the Road
Reprise

Ugh--a concept album about fuel-efficient automobiles. Showcasing, it figures, an old hippie's customary disregard for pop niceties, as his rough-hewn band bashes away without even the chorus of 100 that set apart the music on 2006's Living With War. The trick is that unless you assume "the awesome power of electricity/Stored for you in a giant battery" is too ridiculous for words, the material verges on the extraordinary. The man who wrote "Long May You Run" for his 1946 Buick knows how to milk a car song, and so he sings about freedom and getting under her hood, sure, but also about endless traffic jams, the credit crunch, even bailouts. Pragmatically exploiting his sure tune sense, his saving falsetto and a command of the political facts well exceeding that of Living With War, he's turned out the first great protest album of the new dispensation. Unfortunately, we'll need more.

Blender, May, 2009