Author Topic: U2 - No Line on the Horizon Review-411mania  (Read 1134 times)

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U2 - No Line on the Horizon Review-411mania
« on: March 02, 2009, 09:17:10 PM »
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Bono's taking some time off from saving Africa to attend to his part time job as lead singer of U2. On March 3rd, the Dublin boys bring us their 12th studio album: No Line on the Horizon.

I'll admit this is a tough album to review impartially because I'm a huge U2 fan, but I shall give it my best. I can impartially say that this is their best album of the decade. This is what their previous two albums have been leading up to. In retrospect, All That You Can't Leave Behind was a necessary, and thus somewhat forced, albeit decent album that they had to release after the masses turned against them for Pop. (which ironically turns out to be one of their best albums.) They followed that up with the far more natural feeling and superior How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb. And finally in the last year before the end of the decade, we have their masterpiece of the 00's, No Line on the Horizon.

The boys are the top of their game here, and haven't sounded this vital since the 80's. Bono comes on strong and sings like he has something to prove. Bono's voice has seemed to be flagging a bit in the past, but not here. Edge's guitar is in full effect here, as he continues to prove, and I mean this without a trace of cynicism, that sometimes the minimalist approach is the best. Edge may not hit you with a barrage of notes, but the ones he play sure do count for a lot. And credit to the rhythm section as well: Adam Clayton lays down some serious grooves-especially on "Magnificent" and "Get on your Boots" More on those later. And finally, Larry Mullen Jr. keeps the beat gong strong with some rollicking drum lines. He brings "Unknown Caller" to the next level.

The negatives are far and few, but they are there in the form of two of the songs: "I'll Go Crazy if I Don't Go Crazy Tonight." and "Cedars of Lebanon" The former falls somewhat flat; it's not awful, and it fits with the album, but it feels like its going through the motions. The latter may grow on me, but it's the typical introspective U2 closer-it's a somewhat depressing look at the third world, and comes off as a bit preachy even for Bono standards.

But the rest of the album: spectacular. What's great here is that the songs are undoubtedly U2, but the band pushes itself sonically to deliver something that still sounds original even after 12 albums and three decades of making music. "Get on Your Boots", the lead off single (oddly placed at #6, but necessary after the unimpressive "IGCIIDGCT") can certainly be seen in the same light as other popular U2 radio friendly singles (e.g. "Vertigo" and "Beautiful Day"), but also sounds unlike anything they've released. It's got one of their best bass lines ever, along with Bono singing about forgetting about the heavy stuff for once and just having fun. Weird. It also might be the best song ever written about putting on footwear. Also very different, and equally brilliant is "White as Snow", a folksy and ethereal song that's almost more Dylan than U2. I definitely see this as being a hold your cellphone up moment at future U2 concerts.

The opening few tracks might be one of U2's strongest album openers in a while as well. The eponymous track is a good, dreamy song. Bono really nails it, and let's you know he's singing with a vengeance from the start. "Magnificent" is the best song on the album. It's got a little bit of a techno start, then Edge's brilliant guitar work comes in, and the whole band just nails it beautifully, actually managing to carry out the promise of the song-it truly is Magnificent.

There's some interesting ideas explored on the album as well, with "Stand Up Comedy" looking at the very fabric of existence and human love; all wrapped up in a funky rock song. "Breathe" is an interesting stream-of-consciousness mishmash that works despite itself. Bono declares he is NOT going to buy a cockatoo. And finally, in a truly brilliant stroke U2 manage to accomplish what Led Zeppelin set out to do with Kashmir (document time spent in Morrocco) in 1/3 of the time. They do this with "FEZ-Being Born." It's the second best song on the album. It's got a bit of a darker feel, and it has some of Edge's best guitar work on the album-again proving sometimes less is more. When his guitar chimes in on this one it brings the music to the next level.

With No Line on the Horizon U2 show they're still in the game, and the horizon's still very far away.

The 411: This is U2's best album of the decade, showcasing their talent and songwriting ability. It's classic U2 but still pushes the boundaries of their sound into some unique arenas