Monday, February 23, 2009

Advance Review Of No Line

So I was able to get my hands on an advance copy of U2's upcoming No Line on the Horizon by being part of an exclusive and select group of people who download shit from the Internet. (Relax, RIAA, I'm still going to buy it.)

U2 is one of those bands I used to like when I was younger but have since grown out of, or maybe grown tired of, but still have a certain nostalgic respect for, so I still keep tabs on them out of morbid curiosity. Two other bands that fit into this category would be Dream Theater and Metallica.

After having a few days to process it, I honestly have to say it's better than I expected it to be. It tries desperately to be a cross between The Josha Tree and Achtung, Baby, and although it's not nearly as iconic as eitehr of those, it's not nearly as forgettable as All That You Can't Leave Behind and How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb really were.

Five songs stand out to me: the title track, "Magnificent," "Fez - Being Born," "Breathe," and lamentably, "I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight." I really didn't want to like that last selection because the title is asstarded like nothing else, but despite Bono's wincingly bad attempts at recapturing his falsetto, it's still a damn catchy song.

The other tracks that don't stand out aren't necessarily bad, either, far better than the filler on the previous two albums. "Moment of Surrender," "Unknown Caller," and "White As Snow," are more mellow but carry their own unique weight, and "Get On Your Boots" may be the least tiresome of the trilogy that began with "Elevation" and continued through "Vertigo," but only time will tell for sure on that. The only real complete waste of a track is "Cedars of Lebanon," which is unfortunate because it was one that I was most looking forward to. "Breathe" would have been an ideal closer for the album, but Bono and Company always like to close their albums on a somber note.

The biggest weaknesses include the album not being nearly the "dramatic departure" that had been indicated by those involved, Bono's voice is noticably weaker than I've heard it for a while, "Cedars of Lebanon," and the artistic pretention that weighs down what could otherwise be some harmlessly uplifting pop tunes.

Overall, it's not a bad album, nor will it find its way amongst the best U2 albums. All-in-all, it will serve as a capable diversion until the new Simple Minds is released in a couple months and the new Killing Joke comes out later this year.

EDIT: I've thought it over. "Elevation" is probably the least tiring of the three, "Vertigo" would be by far the most, and "Boots" would fall somewhere in between.


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