Quick Review (LP): No Line On The Horizon by U2


U2
No Line On The Horizon
Interscope; 2009

My Rating: B (66/100)

Best Tracks: "Magnificent", "Unknown Caller", "I’ll Go Crazy If I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight", "Cedars of Lebanon”

The sound of a band staying the course.

TRACK NOTES

"No Line On The Horizon"

  • Cool track, and a decent opener.
  • I always cringe at the line "You can hear the universe in her sea shells." I guess because it brings this to mind. Is it supposed to do that?
  • I mean, I know what he’s talking about with the whole sound in the sea shells thing, so, anyways…
  • It’s no "Where The Streets Have No Name" or "A Sort of Homecoming", but its trajectory is at least in that direction. Solid enough, if a bit underwhelming.

"Magnificent"

  • Word is the lyrics are loosely based upon the "Magnificat." Genius.
  • Love the intro. Nice touch, letting it sort of build from something a bit muffled. Gives it that epic feel.
  • Great U2-ish tune, BTW. One of The Edge’s best riffs in a while.
  • The lyrics "Only love can leave such a mark/Only love can leave such a scar" remind me of this and this.
  • "Only love can leave such a mark/Only love unites our hearts." Nice change up in the parallelism there. 

"Moment of Surrender"

  • This one reminds me of something from ATYCLB. Has a soul-pop feel.
  • I think they closed most of the U2 360 shows with this one. It is pretty climactic.
  • The pacing of the song is brilliant. It allows it to unfold like a story.
  • The lyrics are pretty great.
  • "My body’s now a begging bowl
    That’s begging to get back, begging to get back
    To my heart
    To the rhythm of my soul
    To the rhythm of my unconsciousness
    To the rhythm that yearns
    To be released from control"

"Unknown Caller"

  • LOVE this tune. A new U2 classic.
  • I detect some inspiration from Sufjan in the use of a choral style vocal. Compare this to "Chicago."
  • Bono loves to make reference to Jeremiah 33:3. Wonder what it is about that verse?
  • Or is it a Trinity thing? 3 x 3?

"I’ll Go Crazy If I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight"

  • Say what you will, I like this tune, corny (and, er, picturesque – "Squeeze out sparks of light"???)  lyrics notwithstanding.
  • Sure, it’s the most obvious play for pop culture acceptance here, but it largely succeeds, and I’d rather hear this than 99.9% of the tripe that gets played today.
  • Another great Edge riff here.

"Get On Your Boots"

  • This isn’t as bad as I once thought it was. The initial bass and drums things is a little deceptive.
  • Still, I’m not quite sure how it fits into the rest of the album.
  • I don’t hate it anymore, but it’s still a bit of a skipper.

"Stand Up Comedy"

  • Hey, there’s the "Love, Love, Love" thing! You know, from "Until the End of the World."
  • U2 doesn’t wear cock rock riffage well.
  • Bono’s lyrics are interesting and self-deprecating. Not bad in that department.
  • I particularly like the one about helping God cross the street like an old lady.

"FEZ-Being Born"

  • Not sure what to make of this one. It’s really an instrumental in essence, eh?
  • That being said, I kinda wish U2 would do more stuff like this. Some instrumentals might make their records a little more diverse and ultimately a little more interesting.

"White As Snow"

  • Nice use of "Veni, Veni Emmanuel".
  • Flutters by in a sort of dream.
  • Nice tune, nothing particulary special.

"Breathe"

  • Part of me likes this one, part of me doesn’t.
  • What I like: Bono’s vocal and the general thrust of the song.
  • What I don’t like: the instrumentation, especially the strings and such.
  • I think it actually works as a stripped down rocker, but the dramatic swells are too pompous.

"Cedars of Lebanon"

  • There’s a haze that hangs over this one that I really love.
  • Reminds me of "Mothers of the Disappeared."
  • In fact, it reminds me of combo of "Mothers…" and "Love Is Blindness."
  • One of the band’s most interesting experiments in a while. That backing vocal on the chorus is haunting.
  • Love how it sort of drifts away into nothingness all of the sudden. Totally mortal.

ALBUM NOTES

  • What to make of this one? Went it hit the streets, I was put off by the silly single "Get On Your Boots." I assumed that if that was the best they could muster, the rest of the album must be tripe. (see my old review)
  • Recently, I’ve had a change of heart. The first 5 tracks are all strong, and "Magnificent" and "Unknown Caller" both rank up their with their greatest.
  • Problem is, the last half of the album is somewhat uninspired. Don’t get me wrong, none of it’s BAD, but it’s a bit mediocre on whole, although their are some decent ideas (touched on above).
  • All in all, this is the most "U2-ish" they’ve been since the late 80’s. There are glimmers of what they were able to do in the mid-80’s here, but there’s also a good bit of corniness and over-production.
  • Bottom line though is that the boys still got it. They may not be making classics equal to The Joshua Tree or Achtung Baby, but they are still making inspired music that has the ability to transport you to another time and place. And really, that’s all I ask for from Bono & co.

ATTRIBUTES
Cohesion (4.5/5)
Concept (4.5/5)
Consequence (4/5)
Consistency (3.5/5)
Songs (4/5)

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