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Album Review | Rock

Neil Young’s new journey through the past

Barry Brecheisen/Invision via AP

The act of looking back has not always come easily to Neil Young. At 66, he’s among the most prolific and probing artists of his generation, recording and releasing material at a brisk clip with songwriting concerns just as urgent.

This year, however, Young has locked his gaze on the rearview mirror, most notably with a memoir, “Waging Heavy Peace” published last month. Before that he reunited with Crazy Horse, the hellacious band he has collaborated with on and off for more than four decades. Over the summer they put out “Americana,” a ragtag reimagining of folk standards.

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Now comes “Psychedelic Pill,” which dredges up Young’s past to see how it informs his present. On “Twisted Road” he honors the musicians who have been his guiding lights, from Bob Dylan to the Grateful Dead to Roy Orbison.

But too often bloat tempers the brilliance. “Psychedelic Pill” is a double album because its nine songs won’t fit on a single disc. This is Young at his most sprawling, set to a rhythm purely in service to the groove.

“Driftin’ Back,” the opening salvo, stretches to nearly 28 minutes to touch on everything from Picasso to Young’s disdain for MP3s. “When you hear my song / You only get 5 percent / You used to get it all,” he sings.

His reconciliation between past and present is more palpable on “Walk Like a Giant”: “I used to walk like a giant on the land / Now I feel like a leaf floating in a stream.” (Out Tuesday)

ESSENTIAL “Walk Like a Giant”

Neil Young and Crazy Horse will perform at TD Garden on Nov. 26, with Patti Smith opening.

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