Review: U2 – No Line On The Horizon

Like many other people I’m sure, part of me wants U2 to fail spectacularly and produce a rubbish record. Part of it is to do with their enormous popularity when there are more talented acts around and another part is probably due to my own jealousy and bitterness. Still, with the band now having completed what will probably be their last record before they turn fifty, the U2 bandwagon trundles on and I think ‘No Line On The Horizon’ will stand out as their best album of the decade even though the two previous efforts weren’t too shabby either.

The title track and ‘Magnificent’ lay the foundations for a solid, strong album; the former proves Bono is still a fine frontman whilst the latter is steered by The Edge into a widescreen epic. However, the first genuinely great song from the record is ‘Moment Of Surrender’. Like earlier classics such as ‘One’ and ‘With Or Without You’, it reveals the group’s gifts for slow-burning majesty and it’s a credit to Bono and co. that – despite their millionaire status – they convey just as much warmth and feeling here as on a Blue Nile record. Cynics may baulk at its universal themes but if all popular music was as good as this, we can’t have too much to complain about.

It would be remiss of me not to mention Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois who decorate ‘No Line On The Horizon’ with reliably subtle, ambient touches. Their influence ensures any egos are restrained and only on a few occasions do their charges threaten to escape from the shackles. ‘Get On Your Boots’ is certainly one of those culprits. It may be the single but it does sound like a band trying to recapture their youth. That said, ‘I’ll Go Crazy If I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight’ is acceptable despite Bono’s cries of “Baby, baby, baby” and ‘Stand Up Comedy’ is a very decent funky workout for the boys. They don’t need to sound younger of course, since they’re maturing nicely as evinced on the experimental ‘Fez-Being Born’ and the stark, understated beauty of ‘Cedars Of Lebanon’. Of the remainder, The Edge is let loose again with a spiralling, chiming riff enveloping ‘Unknown Caller’, ‘White As Snow’ is a so-so ballad and ‘Breathe’ is like a poor man’s ‘Desire’.

Whilst ‘How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb’ and ‘All That You Can’t Leave Behind’ were initially hailed as a return to form, ‘No Line On The Horizon’ is a return to the atmospheric U2 when Eno and Lanois first came on board. Credit to all concerned then for, once again, not producing a rubbish record.

Web Sites:
U2 Official Site
U2 MySpace

Further Listening:


1 Response to “Review: U2 – No Line On The Horizon”

  1. 1 Best Albums Of 2009 « The Weblog Of Leonard’s Lair Trackback on January 1, 2010 at 8:50 pm

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