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Offline Mr. BonorFLYd

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A First (Hopefully Last!) Scathing Review Of NLOTH
« on: February 03, 2009, 10:42:23 PM »
We've all been enjoying the Great Reviews so far! The best in my opinion being: You are not allowed to view links. Register or Login
Now...Here's the worst posted in TIMEOUT Sydney (Here's link but I posted below): You are not allowed to view links. Register or Login

Obviously we prefer the good reviews! But, it's good to keep an open mind and see what the H8TERS are saying. SO WE KNOW JUST WHO TO THROW A PAIR OF SHOES AT..umm, besides G.W.B.  >:(  Again the link is above if you want to give this vile creature a piece of your mind!

U2's new album reviewed

U2 return with a new album. Sadly, it's Brian Eno's.
Island/Universal


By Andrew P Street


Disclaimer: This review is based on a single listen at the Universal Music offices rather than a week or so living with the album and being able to explore its nuances.

First impression is this: bully to U2 for trying. Here is a band that could plonk out any old bunch of songs secure in the knowledge that it would sell like sexy, sexy hot cakes regardless of quality. But no: after the longest break in their career, they've tried to incorporate some new sounds and textures into No Line on the Horizon, including Middle Eastern percussion and loads of squiggly keyboard sounds.

That said, they've also brought in their three most frequent producers – Steve Lillywhite, Daniel Lanois and Brian Eno – so any envelope-pushing is being done in very circumscribed areas. Eno is all over the album: damn near every song begins with some of his burbling mono synth action, which usually has a barely tangential connection with the song that follows. And for all that's new, there's no way that you'll mistake it for another band. The Edge has evidently found the bag of effects pedals he used circa The Unforgettable Fire and everything's covered in sustain and delay. Bono's still howling wordlessly away in most of the choruses. Larry Mullen, Jr pumps out his searingly competent drum work and Adam Clayton... well, he plays bass. As much as he usually does, anyway.

(Note for musical types: in fact, with everyone apparently so worried about the dangers of irresponsible drinking at the moment, why not use this opportunity to play the Adam Clayton Root Note Drinking Game? It's simple: take a shot every time that Adam plays anything that's more than two frets from the root note of the chord. You could play it with vodka filtered through absinthe and still be sober enough to pilot a commercial airliner.)

First impressions aside, let's get on with the tracks:

1. 'No Line on the Horizon'
A Bo Diddley beat heralds the beginning of Brian Eno's new album, featuring U2. In fact, the cluttered production and layers of keys sound not dissimilar to what Eno did with James circa Whiplash. And then they staple some ethnic percussion to the thing for no good reason.
(Clayton Root Note Drinking Game: No drink)

2. 'Magnificent'
Kind interpretation: this harkens back to Zooropa, especially in the electro introduction. Less-kind version: hey, it's REM's 'Orange Crush', as rewritten by short-lived 90s synth darlings Republica! It's here that Bono's lyrics come to the fore and you realise that he's followed Bruce Springsteen into the late-period creative cul-de-sac where he's incapable of speaking in anything other than clichés and meaningless waffle. "Only love can leave such a mark," he declares, leaving the listener to answer the question, "what the bloody hell is he on about?" for themselves.
(CRNDG: No drink)

3. 'Moment of Surrender'
After the Vangelis-via-Eno synth intro, Bono delivers a husky, passionate vocal for the album's first ballad, including what an early contender for Dumbest Line of 2009: "Playing with the fire, 'til the fire plays with you." The Edge pulls out a rudimentary slide guitar solo and then there's an oh-ah-oh wordless singalong that should be a hit at the half dozen shows where they try this one out before never playing it again.
(CRNDG: No drink)

4. 'Unknown Caller'
Eno has a good old fiddle until The Edge remembers what he did for 'I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For' – which will make a sweet segue during the tour. There's some genuinely great tasteful fingerpicking here, but it's about this point you'll start thinking "Hold on, aren't U2 best known for their stick-in-your-head choruses? What happened? And how did the last song go?"
(CRNDG: Don't be fooled: that's some down-tuned Edge guitar you're hearing for the first third of the song, not bass. No drink for you)

5. 'I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight'
There are two ways that a song with this title should go. The first and most obvious is a Bon Jovi/Poison good time blues-rock party anthem, with a kick-ass guitar solo (preferably heralded with Jon Bon Jovi/Sebastian Bach screeching "Guitar!") and maybe some sweet harmonica in the coda. The other, less obvious but equally suitable way would be as a Bryan Adams/Aerosmith power ballad, which would also have a kick-ass guitar solo but would be less about partying and more about how crazy the love of a woman can drive a man, which would be a thinly-veiled sex metaphor. "I'm not perfect baby, as anyone can see," Adams/Steven Tyler would sing just before the chorus, "And though you drive me crazy, I'm still as crazy as a man can be." See? The song writes itself. The third option, which is the one that U2 went for, is to do an unmemorable mid-paced song with lyrics like "She's a rainbow, she loves the peaceful life" and a guitar riff lifted from Altered Images' 'I Could Be Happy'. My versions are so, so much better.
(CRNDG: No drink)
     
6. 'Get on Your Boots'
The first single, and oh, Escape Club – how wonderful you must be feeling at this moment! Ever since 'Wild, Wild West' vanished from the charts in 1988 you've been waiting for a sign that you were something more than just another one hit wonder, so hearing U2 re-write the song must warm the cockles of your heart. And Elvis Costello must be smiling too, humming 'Pump It Up' under his breath as he dials his lawyers and wonders what sort of settlement to demand.
(CRNDG: It's a repeated riff bassline, so take a few much-needed shots)

7. 'Stand Up Comedy'
Sorry, Red Hot Chili Peppers: just in case you were thinking of recording a version of The Stone Roses' career-ending 'Love Spreads', be advised that U2 have beaten you to the punch. Bono says something about the Twin Towers and falling down and standing up, and then drops the line "Cross the road like a little old lady". You'd think that a band of U2's status could extend a deadline so that their lead singer could write some lyrics, surely?
(CRNDG: Sure, take a drink. Who cares?)

8. 'FEZ - Being Born'
Starts off like incidental music from the last Prince of Persia video game, then snaps into a prog rock section while Bono sings about fire. Dammit, we should have started a drinking game based on references to fire. Too late now, I suppose.
(CRNDG: No drink)

9. 'White as Snow'
The absolute highlight without any doubt: a superb country lament. Bono makes a decent fist of it with Edge's down-tuned guitar the perfect accompaniment, but it would have been utterly perfect for the late Johnny Cash to wrap his weathered voice around (and would be one hell of a companion piece to the Cash/U2 collaboration 'The Wanderer'). Bono's nature references – seeds, earth, snow, fruit – make perfect sense in this context. See, Bono, you can do it when you try.
(CRNDG: No drink)

10. 'Breathe'
Frantically bowed strings hit harmonics over Mullen, Jr's thundering tom toms, before the rest of the band burst in at cross-rhythms and Bono starts up a scansion-free declamatory vocal like a third-rate Bob Dylan. Still, once it locks in the chorus it all makes sense. Either the album's picking up towards the end or I'm undergoing some sort of musical Stockholm Syndrome in which I fall in love with my captors as a coping mechanism. That said, Edge does pull out a three-note guitar solo that suggests he's never even seen a guitar before, and it's nice of Tears For Fears to let U2 use their keyboard sounds.
(CRNDG: Yeah, Edge and Adam lock on a riff. Have a quick one)

11. 'Cedars of Lebanon'
Yep, they close on a ballad – and it's about world suffering. "Squeeze a complicated life into a simple headline," Bono sighs, and we all agree. "Yes, Bono," we weep, as one. "Oh media, when will you learn?" Then we go to a different perspective, that of a displaced person in a warzone. "A soldier brings oranges," Bono sings, "he got out of a tank." And with that clanging line the magic is dispelled, like the unexpected slam of a toilet door. It's a nice idea, and the tune's a good one, but honestly: some sort of lyric editor would have been wise.
(CRNDG: There's a breakdown where Edge and Adam play a riff with slightly dodgy intonation. Have a deep, last drink)

You've read what we think. Now tell us what you think.



Offline Bono in Bonolands

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Re: A First (Hopefully Last!) Scathing Review Of NLOTH
« Reply #1 on: February 03, 2009, 10:49:31 PM »
Ouch. there is always one Hero.

(Note for musical types: in fact, with everyone apparently so worried about the dangers of irresponsible drinking at the moment, why not use this opportunity to play the Adam Clayton Root Note Drinking Game? It's simple: take a shot every time that Adam plays anything that's more than two frets from the root note of the chord. You could play it with vodka filtered through absinthe and still be sober enough to pilot a commercial airliner.)


Poor Adam.
« Last Edit: February 03, 2009, 10:52:34 PM by Bono in Bonolands »

streetmission

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Re: A First (Hopefully Last!) Scathing Review Of NLOTH
« Reply #2 on: February 03, 2009, 10:56:33 PM »
Well, you can't please everyone.  He gave it two stars, but honestly the review itself wasn't that scathing.  I get the impression he just wants to appear witty, which explains the "drinking game" bit.  I also get the impression that he was expecting something completely out of left field and was disappointed that it "still sounds like U2"; that seems to be the basis of his argument that it wasn't that great of an album.  "It's a U2 album that sounds like U2; I was expecting a U2 album that doesn't sound like U2, therefore I am disappointed and this is a disappointing album."  That makes no sense to me. ???

Offline CiscoJP

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Re: A First (Hopefully Last!) Scathing Review Of NLOTH
« Reply #3 on: February 03, 2009, 11:02:11 PM »
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Well, you can't please everyone.  He gave it two stars, but honestly the review itself wasn't that scathing.  I get the impression he just wants to appear witty, which explains the "drinking game" bit.  I also get the impression that he was expecting something completely out of left field and was disappointed that it "still sounds like U2"; that seems to be the basis of his argument that it wasn't that great of an album.  "It's a U2 album that sounds like U2; I was expecting a U2 album that doesn't sound like U2, therefore I am disappointed and this is a disappointing album."  That makes no sense to me. ???

I almost wrote the same exact thing, Streetmission. A lot of this review seems to be attempts at being witty or clever at the band's expense, and not an actual review. It also seems as though he has some issues with Eno. And it's odd, like he put that disclaimer in there to be able to defend himself in the future if everyone thinks the album is great when it's released. Then he can always go back and say "I told you it was only based on one listen. I didn't get to the nuances." Yeah right. Amazing how every other reveiwer so far has barely been able to jot down many notes at all, except for intiial impressions, yet this guy knows every guitar part that's tuned down, or every lyric, or when it's Edge and not Adam playing? Come on.

Not a scathing review at all, but it seems as if this guy is trying too hard to be funny (and not really succeeding), and not really tackling the actual music.
« Last Edit: February 03, 2009, 11:05:01 PM by CiscoJP »

Revolver7

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Re: A First (Hopefully Last!) Scathing Review Of NLOTH
« Reply #4 on: February 03, 2009, 11:40:31 PM »
f**k him!  ;)

streetmission

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Re: A First (Hopefully Last!) Scathing Review Of NLOTH
« Reply #5 on: February 03, 2009, 11:41:00 PM »
Two telling quotes from this "review".

"U2 return with a new album. Sadly, it's Brian Eno's."  As you pointed out CiscoJP, he clearly doesn't like Brian Eno, who is the main producer for the album.  So he's not going to like the album after one listen no matter how good it may be.

"Disclaimer: This review is based on a single listen at the Universal Music offices rather than a week or so living with the album and being able to explore its nuances."  It sounds like to me that he's planning on getting a copy of the album and giving it a week of listens when it comes out.  Sounds like what I did with Achtung Baby when it came out; I probably would've given it 2 stars after one listen but now after "living with it for a week" (so to speak) I think it's fantastic.  So, no matter how much he disliked it after one listen, he plans on giving it several more spins.  Sounds like a good U2 album to me.

Oh, like you said CiscoJP, he's able to pick out Adam's playing in each song from an album that even he admits has a lot of nuances and complexities.  Yeah, right.

Offline TheFlyingLemon

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Re: A First (Hopefully Last!) Scathing Review Of NLOTH
« Reply #6 on: February 03, 2009, 11:54:03 PM »
He probably hates U2.  ::)
« Last Edit: February 04, 2009, 12:01:55 AM by Joe90usa »

hurricane hugo

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Re: A First (Hopefully Last!) Scathing Review Of NLOTH
« Reply #7 on: February 04, 2009, 12:30:23 AM »
Hey, Andy - Lester Bangs has commandeered my ouija board. He says he wants his reviewing style back.

#@!

Offline Bono in Bonolands

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Re: A First (Hopefully Last!) Scathing Review Of NLOTH
« Reply #8 on: February 04, 2009, 01:55:35 AM »
some people think Bono's lyrics are a bit of a mish mash..

a mole, digging up a hole, digging up my soul...

See what I mean!

Offline jick

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Re: A First (Hopefully Last!) Scathing Review Of NLOTH
« Reply #9 on: February 04, 2009, 05:41:00 AM »
This seems to be a very fair assessment of the album.  There seems to be way too many sounds on it that U2 can never play live as a four piece band.

Cheers,

J

Offline Lesmo

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Re: A First (Hopefully Last!) Scathing Review Of NLOTH
« Reply #10 on: February 04, 2009, 06:04:04 AM »
The disclaimer says it all. One listen is not enough.

And I'd rather have the bad reviews. It helps me hearing things I may not hear or to strengthen my position.

Offline CiscoJP

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Re: A First (Hopefully Last!) Scathing Review Of NLOTH
« Reply #11 on: February 04, 2009, 06:41:46 AM »
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This seems to be a very fair assessment of the album.  There seems to be way too many sounds on it that U2 can never play live as a four piece band.

Cheers,

J


There's lots of songs they already have that have lots of sounds that they can't produce as a 4-piece. They use backing tracks. The intro to "Streets." The beginning drums on "With or Without You." The second (slide) guitar in "Gone." Or, they just do without. No violins being played for the live version of "Sunday Bloody Sunday." No xylophone in "I Will Follow." I'm not all that worried. As for it being a fair assessment of the album, even he admits that this review is based on only one listen. Which really isn't all that fair...

Offline DGordon1

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Re: A First (Hopefully Last!) Scathing Review Of NLOTH
« Reply #12 on: February 04, 2009, 06:50:57 AM »
Sounds like a real smart-assed reviewer. He doesn't really pick out huge deficiencies in the album, he just shows that he's not a fan of Bono's lyricism ... or Brian Eno. The fact that nobody else seems to have this attitude is encouraging.

Offline JuniorEmblem

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Re: A First (Hopefully Last!) Scathing Review Of NLOTH
« Reply #13 on: February 04, 2009, 07:19:14 AM »
First off, according to some people here, reviewers are "experts" (ROFLMAO big-time at that one) so obviously it MUST be bad.

Still, as most intelligent people seem to agree, one listen can't possibly be enough to pass judgement, good OR bad.

How anyone can say it's a "fair assessment" of the album without having heard it for themselves is just ludicrous, another big 'ol ROFLMAO at that little gem.

So, we have a bunch of good reviews, one bad. So what ?

We'll all have our own 2c soon enough. Based on the reviews and th elittle I know of the reviewers, it'll be a good one.

Oh, and if you want to play the Adam RNDG and get drunk, listen to Pop.




Offline U2#1-War

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Re: A First (Hopefully Last!) Scathing Review Of NLOTH
« Reply #14 on: February 04, 2009, 07:27:10 AM »
The publisher was spot on with what he said about HTDATB, saying it was basically ATYCLB but a little harder and more personal. So even tho hope and pray he is wrong, there is some credibility here.