• Record Label: Reprise
  • Release Date: Jun 29, 2015
Metascore
61

Generally favorable reviews - based on 31 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 10 out of 31
  2. Negative: 2 out of 31
Buy On
  1. Jun 25, 2015
    100
    Young is still a force to be reckoned with. There is urgency and energy here.
  2. Jun 30, 2015
    92
    Working with Lukas Nelson’s Promise of the Real, Young’s urgency is infused with youthful intensity.
  3. 80
    The sound of a legend raging in style.
  4. Uncut
    Jun 24, 2015
    80
    The Monsanto Years is occasionally rambling, frequently sentimental and sometimes moving. [Aug 2015, p.68]
  5. Jul 17, 2015
    75
    The songs are tight, enjoyable, and lively.
  6. Jun 30, 2015
    70
    If the individual message may wind up fading like yesterday's newspapers, the music will keep The Monsanto Years burning bright.
  7. Jun 26, 2015
    70
    It's another album of Neil being Neil, and that's a good thing.
  8. Jun 17, 2015
    70
    Young hits the equilibrium between songwriting and performance best when he brings his heart to the table through rebellion, and these nine tracks geared towards environmental ignorance at large do the trick.
  9. Aug 6, 2015
    67
    A two-disc version of The Monsanto Years includes a DVD offering a full hour of songs, some sounding better than on the album proper.
  10. 63
    This is Young the aged bellwether, raging about the state of the world with the focus of someone with little left to lose.
  11. Jul 29, 2015
    60
    Granted, the lyrics are somewhat cumbersome and heavy-handed, further detracting from the possibility of ensuring these songs will ever be considered of the hummable variety.... The Monsanto Years may not be an album for the ages, but there’s never a moment of doubt that the conviction is clear.
  12. Jul 17, 2015
    60
    What could have been an embarrassment is a quiet triumph.
  13. Mojo
    Jul 6, 2015
    60
    Not much subtlety, but if some of the lyrics and playing are sometimes tough and ready, righteous passion overrides it to carry the day. [Aug 2015, p.88]
  14. Jun 30, 2015
    60
    Often, The Monsanto Years hits home squarely.
  15. Jun 25, 2015
    60
    For an undisguised, heavy-handed topical Neil Young record, The Monsanto Years is actually engaging and mostly effective.
  16. 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.
  17. 60
    If you fancy being barked at by a grizzled campaigner about pesticides and sea pollution over three-chord sludge and ragged-glorious guitars, then you’ll love what Young and co cook up here. If not, stick to Harvest.
  18. 60
    As with Young’s electric-car album Fork In The Road, his single-issue tendencies can grow wearisome after a few songs.
  19. 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.
  20. Jun 30, 2015
    52
    With much of the songwriting on The Monsanto Years taking the form of hastily scribbled screeds, the most revelatory moments come when Neil grapples with the paradox of making complex politics more pop-song palatable.
  21. 50
    As it stands, it’s another entry in Young’s bulging catalog that, like Storytone, Greendale, Le Noise and others, you might play once or twice to see what he’s up to, then return to far more listenable classics like Rust Never Sleeps.
  22. 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.
  23. Jun 16, 2015
    50
    It’s a collection of songs that winds up sounding like it could have been a series of blog posts or even tweets.
  24. Jun 16, 2015
    50
    This is a concept/protest record about Monsanto, and unless your blood boils as intensely about the issue as Young’s, the protest element of that is handled so clumsily that it sinks the album entirely.
  25. Magnet
    Jul 8, 2015
    40
    The Monsanto Years is another head-scratcher of an album. [No. 122, p.61]
  26. Q Magazine
    Jul 1, 2015
    40
    Worthy, but hard work. [Aug 2015, p.115]
  27. Jun 30, 2015
    40
    “Living With War,” his 2006 album about President George W. Bush, was a dud, and so is this new one.
  28. Jun 30, 2015
    40
    Because the album risks so much in its all-in politics, the songs on their own are more difficult to judge. For that reason, the album is enjoyable almost solely in small doses.
  29. Jun 15, 2015
    40
    With no one on hand to quell his worst impulses, Young has gone preachy to the extreme, creating music that's morally precise, but sloppy in every other regard.
  30. Jun 30, 2015
    30
    Not only are the concepts themselves reductive and half-baked and the lyrics risibly clumsy, but the songs appear to have been composed in less time than it actually takes to perform them.
  31. The new [album] sinks decent riffs and an earnest message in unlistenably didactic lyrics.
User Score
5.8

Mixed or average reviews- based on 15 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 7 out of 15
  2. Negative: 3 out of 15
  1. 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! Full Review »
  2. 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.
    Full Review »
  3. 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.
    Full Review »