ALBUM REVIEW: U2
No Line On The Horizon
A personal revelation before I commence this review: I like U2, but I despise all the attention they've been getting over the past two album cycles. How to Dismantle An Atomic Bomb, in particular, wasn't that great. They just played the Grammys, even though they weren't nominated, and now I hear they're going to be the musical guest on David Letterman for five days straight the week this CD comes out. It's almost enough to make me puke. So I'm not exactly impartial here. I'd love nothing more than for No Line On the Horizon to be complete rubbish.
It isn't. But it falls far short of being a masterpiece.
Regarding U2's sound, Bono was recently quoted as saying, "Maybe the rock will have to go; maybe the rock has to get a lot harder. But whatever it is, it's not gonna stay where it is." Producer Brian Eno also stated this the new record is a throwback to Achtung Baby, back when U2 were innovating and creating new sounds.
After reading these two quotes, and then listening to No Line On The Horizon, I have come to the conclusion that these two individuals are out of their minds. In fact, U2's sound hasn't changed much at all. Some of these tracks ("Stand Up Comedy") do have a harder edge. But none would've been out of place on How to Dismantle An Atomic Bomb.
"Moment of Surrender" is a slow, spacey song, one of the best on the record. But it's done in by a chorus that uses the lyric "At the ATM machine." Seriously? Are you doing this just to fuck with us, Bono? To force us to feel the unease that comes from hearing such a hideous grammatical screw-up?
"Unknown Caller" is an appealing mid-tempo track with a sing-along chorus. But I'm still wondering... where is the innovation here? Weren't we promised this would be a groundbreaking record? I'm not hearing anything that sounds original.
"I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight" comes from the Fall Out Boy school of really long song titles. Apparently someone thought it would help U2 seem hip with the kids if they used a complete sentence as a song title.
The better songs are towards the end of the record. "White As Snow" is a pretty ballad in which Bono laments, "If only a heart could be as white as snow." That's followed by "Breathe," in which Bono near-raps the lyrics over a heavy guitar riff. It's good stuff. But not enough to save No Line On the Horizon.
No Line On the Horizon hits stores March 3.