Monday, February 23, 2009

Potted Review: No Line On The Horizon

If you liked U2's previous two albums then read no further. Go, play them and enjoy them. Seriously. They're exceptional albums, for Simple Minds*, but they're just not that good as U2 albums. Both of them were far too uneven, with all too brief moments of greatness and far too many moments of mediocrity. Their new album, No Line On The Horizon, will soon be counted amongst their best efforts. It's an album to ranked in the upper echelon of their catalogue, alongside The Joshua Tree and Achtung Baby. And I'm not saying that lightly. So, if you like the previous albums, I doubt you'll like this, in the same way that people fled the band in droves when Achtung Baby was released simply because it wasn't Rattle & Hum or The Joshua Tree.

Since 2001 each U2 album has accompanied by a series of press releases hailing it as being the 'Best U2 Album Ever'. Sadly this has become a joke, but then we know that no artist or record company will ever come out and say, "Well, we were a bit devoid of ideas and somewhat distracted, and we did the best we could, but, frankly, it's not that good really. Certainly not as good as the fourth album we did, but better than the crud we offered up last year." In this case they can put out a solid album that lives up to the hyperbole you'll soon be hearing.

It's an album wherein U2 show that their best influences are themselves. They've not sounded as good in years, certainly not since 1997's Pop. Tracks like Magnificent, Get On Your Boots, Moment Of Surrender, Stand Up Comedy, Fez and Cedars Of Lebanon hold their own with anything that U2 have released previously. The music is near perfect with all members shining, big guitars, unusual drum patterns, shimmering keyboards - even Adam's bass drives tracks here, something that would have been unheard of previously (New Years Day aside), Bono's voice is sounding better than he has since the mid 1980s and the lyrics...oh the lyrics. Gone are the sappy, cloying 'June and spoon' lyrics that dominated the bulk of the previous two albums. Bono has found his muse...and it shows. Look for lines such as, "The songs in your head are now on my mind," "Only love can heal such a scar
,"Every beauty needs to go out with an idiot," and more. This is classic U2, this is the U2 we've been waiting for. This is the U2 I've been screaming for since 1997.

This is the sound of four men dismantling the Atomic Bomb and Leaving Behind a lot of crap. Re-Boot and Re-Start indeed!

* I've got nothing against Simple Minds, indeed I adore Jim Kerr and his music. However I've always seen Simple Minds as the little brother to U2. An exceptional Simple Minds album can be viewed as being a decent U2 album, nothing to be ashamed about but nothing to get too excited about either.

1 comment:

The Seditionist said...

I'm with you Danny. Dunno that I agree with Rolling Stone's 5 stars, and U2 is nowhere near my favorite band ever, but it's an awfully nice album.

Also, in my dotage, I occasionally focus on the noise that is the music instead of the music per se. Like occasionally, I spas out listening to the stones and focus on Charlie Watts' drumming (which gets better and better as he simplifies things) or the guitars going back and forth or at each other.

Anyway, point is this album offers me that kind of listening as well. It shows the band's punky, noisy roots, in a way, in a good way.

Yeah, Danny, recommended.