Author Topic: London Telegraph Review  (Read 1295 times)

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London Telegraph Review
« on: March 02, 2009, 04:19:24 PM »
The Sunday Telegraph London
March 1, 2009

As fresh as a debut; is this U2's best studio album yet?

By Paul Morley

On their latest album, U2 sound so much like a contemporary version
of themselves, and a contemporary pop group full stop, it is fairly
breathtaking. No Line on the Horizon is their twelfth, and possibly
best, studio album. At least, it's intoxicating enough for fans, if
not those irked by U2's inconvenient continuing presence, to consider
it their best. It sounds as fresh and vivid as a debut, yet is
infused with their very specific, self-conscious experience.

Since their attractively ragged and raging 1980 debut album Boy --
and their last five or six albums could justifiably have been called
Man -- they've nimbly resisted becoming a nostalgia act. They've
smartly survived numerous shifts in musical fashion, commercial
structures and cultural circumstances. They've stayed dreamers and
kept faith with the astringent guitar sound of the Clash, Public
Image and the Banshees, even as they've become tangled in their own
resonating history, success, reputation, power and Bono's unyielding
international presence as meddling buddy of the high and mighty.

Unlike the post-punk groups that originally inspired them, they're
still around to make themselves up, and negotiate their image, their
music and their business, as a group that can play at MTV glamour,
reinvent themselves (whatever turbulent technological and cultural
changes are happening around them), mix in the bracing, legendary
company of Dylan and Springsteen, and make a record that sounds

like the group they always were without it seeming like they're just
repeating tricks and embarrassingly hanging around long after they've
outstayed their welcome.

Cynics annoyed by the unwieldy, do-gooding civic concerns of a
pontificating Bono, aggravated by his impertinent, presumptive desire
to correct various forces of corruption and ignorance, suspicious of
the forensic methods U2 use to remodel themselves, will resent the
five-star reviews the record deserves for being a great sounding
piece of spectacularly organised, defiantly intimate, sensitively
designed and emotionally presented, post-modern showbusiness.

U2 have always been aggressively committed to slicing through
cynicism, even as their implacable attention-seeking has given
ammunition to those cynics that profoundly doubt something so plush
and propertied can be sincere. What you think of No Line on the
Horizon, and the group's sustained act of self-preservation, will
reflect whether you consider them a lucid celebration of sincerity or
a contrived, swanky forgery. It's down to whether you believe or not -
- in the group, and in belief itself.