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The Monsanto Years Image
Metascore
61

Generally favorable reviews - based on 31 Critics What's this?

User Score
5.8

Mixed or average reviews- based on 15 Ratings

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  • Artist(s): Promise of the Real
  • Summary: The Canadian singer-songwriter's concept album about the dangers of the business practices of the Monsanto Company (especially genetically modified seeds) features the band Promise of the Real with Willie Nelson's sons Lukas and Micah.
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Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 10 out of 31
  2. Negative: 2 out of 31
  1. Jun 25, 2015
    100
    Young is still a force to be reckoned with. There is urgency and energy here.
  2. Uncut
    Jun 24, 2015
    80
    The Monsanto Years is occasionally rambling, frequently sentimental and sometimes moving. [Aug 2015, p.68]
  3. Jun 26, 2015
    70
    It's another album of Neil being Neil, and that's a good thing.
  4. Jun 16, 2015
    60
    These songs are powerfully felt, even if they probably won't end up getting within sniffing distance of Young's towering canon.
  5. 55
    The Monsanto Years is another inessential and underpowered Neil Young album to file alongside the likes of 2003's ecological garage rock opera Greendale: good ideas and inspiring ideals grounded by half-baked presentation and paucity of substantial songcraft.
  6. 50
    Young long ago figured out how to write rants that engage. The Monsanto Years, listenable but dusty, is no different; it’s music you’ve heard before with a new bad guy as its target.
  7. The new [album] sinks decent riffs and an earnest message in unlistenably didactic lyrics.

See all 31 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 2 out of 5
  2. Negative: 1 out of 5
  1. Jul 9, 2015
    10
    In West Africa there's a tradition of local musicians making message songs in a really direct way about topical issues - for example, if youIn West Africa there's a tradition of local musicians making message songs in a really direct way about topical issues - for example, if you live in a city and hire someone from the country as a servant you should treat them well and not take advantage of them - a songwriting approach which seems very unusual in Europe and the US, but taking the direct approach is exactly what Neil Young does here. And upon first listen it all sounds a bit bonkers because he's sloganeering in a really unpoetic way over the tracks, banging on about Monsanto all the time, pesticides, seeds - in some detail - and GMOs.

    But some of it's actually very funny, the almost throwaway manner he drops Starbucks into one track as an afterthought where he's namechecking the corporate sinners is hilarious, and then there's lines like 'people don't wanna hear about all the beautiful fish in the deep blue sea...dying.' And the whistling-friendly 'A Star Bucks A Coffee Shop' has to be the happiest song ever about 'Fascist politicians and chemical giants walking arm-in-arm.'

    The songs are a massive improvement on Living With War, Storytone, Greendale and Le Noise, it's mostly like a punked up version of American Stars'n'Bars or a grungier take on Zuma. In fact, I can't think of a protest album that's as much fun to listen to as this. I don't understand why it's got such a low score on here, perhaps the critics only listened to it once and thought 'WTF?', but Big Box, Monsanto Years and People Want To Hear About Love are up there with his best, as is his guitar playing throughout. And it's for a good cause, which you are never ever left in any doubt about whatsoever.
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  2. Jul 1, 2015
    8
    It's better if you listen to the music because the lyrics are pretty awkward but after it starts to sink in you really notice how beautifulIt's better if you listen to the music because the lyrics are pretty awkward but after it starts to sink in you really notice how beautiful and even funny some of the songs are. I might even end up liking the whole thing but my favourites so far are Wolf Moon and People Want to Hear about Love (which is about how most listeners aren't interested in protest songs). Get those two songs at least! Expand
  3. Nov 16, 2016
    6
    Neil Young takes a stand like never before with the Monsanto Years. He's teaming up with Willie Nelson's sons in the Promise of the Real andNeil Young takes a stand like never before with the Monsanto Years. He's teaming up with Willie Nelson's sons in the Promise of the Real and their collaboration brings an enjoyable album. The Promise of the Real is fairly similar to Crazy Horse and the raw guitar really works for these songs because they really aren't produced that heavily.

    None of these songs are going to become Neil Young signature tracks but its an easy 9 songs to listen too. The lyrics aren't necessary that well crafted either. It just seems like a quick jam record. I can't see why any Neil Young fans would be too disappointed with this album.
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  4. Aug 2, 2015
    5
    Do NOT cheese off Neil Young! This man can write an entire album, turning your brand into a snarl word. Monsanto incurred (probably rightlyDo NOT cheese off Neil Young! This man can write an entire album, turning your brand into a snarl word. Monsanto incurred (probably rightly so) the songwriter's wrath by engaging in destructive business practices that affect us all. So, the message is well taken. Musically, however, this album starts out hard to listen to and winds up sounding a bit like self-parody. The earnestness may be genuine, but it may have been better to hone one song into a weapon, rather than repeating the litany through all of the works. Expand
  5. Aug 17, 2015
    0
    I hadn't heard of Neil Young before, and was keen on listening to someone writing critical song texts about important worldwide issues. MyI hadn't heard of Neil Young before, and was keen on listening to someone writing critical song texts about important worldwide issues. My enthusiasm however got less and less the further I listened. What I consider to be a classic-blues-rock sound, feels a bit dull and sleepy. It may be that the texts are good and deep, but Young's voice doesn't go much over the music. Sometimes I got the impression he's missing tones, and the heights are definitely not his strength.
    The dreamy easy-listening nature of the album doesn't fit the strong political texts. It is probably a type of satiré, but I expect bolder, louder vocals and goosebumps, or at least a desire for revolt, rising inside me.
    Normally I might have liked the sound of the album for a relaxing Sunday playlist, but the poor vocals, the length of some tracks (7-8 minutes) and the 'pessimistic' texts make me much too often wanting to just skip and listen to something else.
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