No Line On The Horizon

U2 - No Line On The Horizon

This review was going to be vastly different from what it had ended up being. When I got a copy of the album three weeks ago, I figured it would be more of a preview. Anyone who's been familiar with my schedule over the past couple of weeks shouldn't be surprised that didn't happen. Then when I failed to get it loaded onto my ipod until last Monday morning, I figured it would be a track-by-track "first thoughts" style review. That idea fell apart when I didn't jot down any notes during said first listen, and subsequently listened to the album five or six more times over the past week. So I guess we'll be going with a more traditional review.

Just about everything I've read about No Line On The Horizon states two things. First, that U2 are "experimenting" again, and second, that the album takes a few listens to grow on you. I've pretty much decided that the first thought is bunk. Sure there are a few more keyboards and programing than their last two albums have had, but these are all things that have been part of the U2 sound ever since Achtung Baby came out eighteen years ago. Really, the only real experimenting came about in the songwriting process. For the first time, producers Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois are credited as co-writers on seven of the album's eleven tracks. The other somewhat new approach is that after tiring of singing in first person, Bono wrote many of the lyrics through the eyes of different characters.

As for the thought that the album is a grower, not a shower, I'd probably have to agree. I'll admit that there wasn't a whole lot that really jumped out at me on first listen, other than the title track and "Breathe," but it seems to reveal itself a little bit more on each successive listen. I've gone on record repeatedly that I wasn't sure how I felt about the first single, "Get On Your Boots," but the song definitely seems to work better when taken in context of the entire album. For all the talk about going in a different direction with this record, there is actually quite a bit of old U2 evident. "No Line On The Horizon" sounds a bit like "The Fly" after taking a couple of Valium, and you can also find bits reminiscent of "Mysterious Ways" (the solo on "Moment of Surrender" ) and "The Three Sunrises" (the intro of "Unknown Caller"). "Stand Up Comedy," with a riff that's already been used by a thousand mediocre jam bands, is probably one of the weakest tracks the band has ever included on an album, but they make up for it with the gorgeous "White As Snow." There is something of a recurring theme of our interaction with technology in the lyrics, which is counterbalanced by extensive use of organ on several tracks, especially on the hymn-like "Moment of Surrender." But you have to wonder how well those references are going to hold up over time. This album won't go down as one of the best of U2's career, or even their best album this decade (I'd have to give that honor to All That You Can't Leave Behind), but overall it's a solid effort from four guys who have arguably managed to maintain the title of biggest band in the world for over twenty years now.


I am so glad you finally posted the review. I wanted to ask you about the album.

My first listen was so-so. The next week was me listening to it all the time. I really think some of the stuff is really great. "Magnificent"reminds me of a track that could have been on The Unforgettable Fire". "Being Born" is so different but I get it.
I really like the album now. It had to grow on me. I don't think it's better than the last album (which I liked better than All You Can't...
In the end...It didn't suck. I was a little scared after hearing "Get On Your Boots" which I like but I didn't want a sequel to POP. but at least after all these years they are still trying to progress rather than slapping out the same old thing.
BTW....The Get On Your Boots video looks like one long Apple iPod commercial....meh.
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