U2's first new album in over four years - here are the thoughts of a long time fan who's not shy to criticize. This this also my chance to post some of my '05 concert photos!
No Line On The Horizon will be released on Tuesday but I've been listening to a "liberated" copy of it for the past week. Of course, I will be buying a legal version when it's available. After the first play, I wasn't digging the album, with the exception of one track. There was a little too much of the up-tempo, adult contemporary self-affirmation U2 in the same vein as 'Walk On', 'Stuck In A Moment...', 'In A Little While' and so on. That's my least favorite U2. I like gutsy, anthemic, overwhelming U2 or vulnerable, intimate U2. I've read a lot of rave reviews for NLOTH - 'their best since Achtung' and such. I agree that the songs have improved over several listens, but I wouldn't rank it anywhere near my all-time favourite album.
Here are some quick impressions of individual tracks:
No Line on the Horizon - The riff is the same as 'Jitterbug Baby' from the stolen Achtung Baby session tapes! Rock on! But the wonky lyrics and vocals detract from the quality of the track.
Magnificent - Here's my soaring anthem complete with signature jangly Edge guitar. My shining favourite of the group, with the best line: "Only love can leave such a scar"
Moment of Surrender - Absolutely brutal lyrics and dodgy vocals render this one a SKIP for me.
Unknown Caller - Ewan likes the computer references in the lyrics but Anisa thinks it will date terribly. I agree with Anisa.
I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight - This is the kind of Top 20 "we're gonna make it, everything's gonna be okay" optimistic radio hit I mentioned above. I'm not a fan.
Get on Your Boots - I hated this one when it was released as a single but now when I listen while making an effort to ignore the lyrics, I feel it's not so bad.
Stand Up Comedy - Love the swagger! Love that Joséphine de Beauharnais gets a name check.
FEZ – Being Born - Skip the 63 second intro of Tim Burton soundtrack style instrumentation and you'll arrive at a beautiful landscape reminiscent of 'The Unforgettable Fire'
White as Snow - Fairy tale ballad. Pretty.
Breathe - This kind of breathless sing-speak is somewhat unusual for U2. The song is really growing on me. Can't wait to hear how it sounds live. "Running down the road like loose electricity" - heh. (Update! Live from The Late Show!)
Cedars of Lebanon - Sung from the perspective of a war correspondent. The requisite commentary on world issues, without being preachy. Mellow and listenable but it's an abrupt end to the album.
Here's something that struck me: for the first time, I feel like Bono has become the band's weakest link. Guitar, bass, drums... those guys are improving and becoming even more skillful as time passes. Of course, Bono's voice can't age in the same way. His voice doesn't have the power or musicality it once had, and I understand that. What is a concern is that Bono's lyrics are not maturing or improving. In fact, a lot of the song lines are downright cringeworthy. I wonder if Bono's getting lazy in the songwriting department. If you listen to the album, I'm sure you'll agree that some rhyming couplets seem forced and silly. Rock songs don't have to rhyme, right?
From the greentea.tk archives: U2 Week, 2005