Wednesday, April 22, 2009


The Irish band's 12th studio album was originally slated to come out before the end of last year, but the band pulled it back to mold and twist it some more, after the original material recorded with Rick Rubin was shelved. They've been rocking since the early 80s, when it comes to stadium-filling anthems, there's no challenger to U2's crown. It's been a while since their last release, 2004's "How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb", but it's been worth the wait. The result is 11 songs that thematically seem to have no link (although being lost surfaces quite a few times), but sonically unite the many sides of U2: the boys from get back to basics with their strongest offering in years. It was recorded in Dublin, New York, London and Fès, Morocco (but the rumoured North African influences are hardly audible). Comfortingly, the production comes courtesy of Brian Eno, Daniel Lanois and Steve Lillywhite. There may be some quibble as to whether this is the best U2 album since Eno and Lanois first worked with the band on 1984's "The Unforgettable Fire". It starts out blustery and familiar, before gradually revealing an unexpected and almost lovable sense of vulnerability. "Magnificent" with its drum crescendos, trademark guitar riffs and a soaring Bono vocal is easily the best thing here and is crying out to be released as a single. There is the odd moment of rocking swagger which seems to be U2's way of saying that they are not too old to pull on the leather trousers yet - the trashy rock of "Get On Your Boots" and "Stand Up Comedy", the latter hinting at the muscular funk-infused rock of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. "Get On Your Boots", the album's lead single, is actually a good track : if this fails to get your foot tapping, we doubt anything will. "Breathe" suggests that the band's classic approach can still sound contemporary. And the albums ends in contemplative mood with "Cedars Of Lebanon", a Lanois-style soundscape, which takes shape amid a sonic fug that mirrors the exhaustion of its war reporter narrator: "Child drinking dirty water from the riverbank/ Soldier brings oranges he got out from a tank". "Breathe" suggests that the band's classic approach can still sound contemporary. Lyrics like 'the right to appear ridiculous is something I hold dear' on "I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight" show that they still have a sense of humour. Apart from a couple of the tracks being a bit too long and the album cover being a bit boring, the album - over 54 minutes - is a worthy addition to their catalogue. "No Line on the Horizon is a bold, beautiful and highly speculative re-imagining of U2's music". - Telegraph "The slower, meditative efforts where Bono sings rather than screams are surprisingly lovely and hint at a future of Rubin-era Johnny Cash potential. U2 are at their strongest when they play their age but when they try and rock, it's irrelevant and cringeworthy".- L. Bazley

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A Beatles fan since December 1980.Now an oral surgeon and music journalist.He lives in Bangkok.