U2's No Line in the Horizon Review

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Very few bands can transcend almost four decades and command so much attention and respect from the music community. Not to mention the anticipation and buzz every time U2 releases an album. However, U2 is not an average band. Thirty Nine years after their first release, Boy (1980), the band still continues to write and compose music that is relevant and at times even superseding the current norms in mainstream.
U2’s last two albums, All That You Can’t Leave Behind (2000) and How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb (2004) were considered a sound back to U2 basics. However, it left a lot of true fans angry at their lack of creativity. Well, No Line In The Horizon will not disappoint those who seek a new sound from U2.

1. No Line in the horizon - 4 out of 5 (4:11)
U2’s first song is heavy on bass and synthesizers. It creates the ambiance for Bono’s vocal to have this urgency and loudness that’s been missing in a mid-tempo song from U2 in a while.

2. Magnificent – 5 out of 5 (5:20)
The song starts with an ambient-like feel then around the thirty second mark an 80’s synthesizer sound comes in that transcends the song a lift off. The baseline on this song is truly what makes the song stand out as one of the best. The baseline is similar to the live bass line rendition of Gone from Pop. Bono’s voice seems at one with this song and the sound from guitar to drums are just right. This song is an upbeat tear your shirt open and expose your heart type of sincere song. As if Bono was talking to each one of us.

3. Moment of Surrender - 3 out 5 (7:24)
These lads are Irish and their religious connection is always evident it every album. Moment of Surrender is the album’s Gospel song. Lasting seven minutes and twenty four seconds, the lyrics depict a man seeking redemption and forgiveness for taking everyday life for granted and always turning to the negative. This song could lead to be a U2 stadium hymn.

4. Unknown Caller – 4 out of 5 (6:02)
Like many of the songs in this album, the beginning of the song hardly translates to what the song will fully grow into. When I originally heard this song I wrote it off. In my opinion The Edge (U2’s Guitarist) would have done a better rendition of this song, as his voice seems effortless at times and has a higher tone than Bono’s. Unfortunately, the lyrics feel forced at times as if the song was composed first and so was the chorus and they needed the verses in between to keep the song together. However, this song is so special in so many ways. The chorus starts and the song just lifts you up from the ground. This song would sound better if it were all chorus. It would have been this fan-sing-along song that would take the roof off any Arena.

5. I’ll Go Crazy If I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight – 3.5 out of 5(4:14)
I’ll go Crazy, feels like it’s one of the easiest songs that came about in this album. The song has the trademark Edge chime guitar picking that resonates with the help of his reverb and echo pedals. The song is about cutting loose but not losing track of the outcome. At times it reminded me of Journey.

6. Get on Your Boots - 4 out of 5 (3:25)
The song has layers of drum loops and guitar riffs that have been gone since Achtung Baby. Though Pop was heavy on drum loops and bass lines, the guitar driven sound had been washed out. To compare this songs to other U2 songs; It has the verbal rhythm playfulness of Elevation and Fast Cars. The guitar passion of Vertigo and The Fly and the the bass line bravado that carried songs like I Will Follow. The drumming...well this is something new. Larry is usually against having a lot of drum loops in a song, but he has embraced the drum machine and composed most of the drum loops for this album. This is one of the few song were a Moroccan influence is evident…as far as the sway in the lyrics.

7. Stand Up Comedy - 3 out of 5 (3:50)
This song will be a song that everyone will sing along to in the concert. It has a 70’s rock-funk feel that’s carried throughout by the guitar riff. However, it feels as one of the weakest link in this album.

8. FEZ-Being Born – 3 out of 5 (5:17)
There’s usually a song in every album where Brian Eno’s (Co-Producer) influence is all over a track. The first minute and thirty four seconds seems as if they came out of U2’s and Eno’s collaboration album Passengers: Original Soundtrack 1. This song is really unusual. It has four different breaks in which the sound is completely different. Complexity wise, this track is amazing, but it’s the type of song that really does not have a catchy chorus. The music is not your typical rock song or U2 song. The song actually sounds like a song written for the introduction of a movie. This song might just be the albums weakest link.

9. White as snow – 3.5 out 5(4:40)
A friend and I listened to this album three times back to back to back to get a complete feel for it. We both agreed that White as Snow had a Cowboy-Western influence. The musical arrangement is very simple; however, what really makes this song come through is the lyrics that tell the story of two brother’s love and growing up.

10. Breathe - 4 out of 5 (4:58)
This is one of the rock themed songs in this album. There’s similarity in the rhythm and vocal sway at times that is reminiscent of a Beatle’s-Lennon penned song. The song is very fast paced and is one of the few that lets The Edge have an 80’s guitar sounding solo towards the end.

11. Cedars of Lebanon - 5 out of 5 (4:12)
The song is very smooth and seems as if the four members were in an impromptu jam session and Bono jumped into the microphone and started to improvise. There is hardly any singing, but instead rhythmic–spoken lyrics with a chorus that shifts the pattern. This is the album’s "Wake Up Dead Man."
This song is full of honesty and clever remarks.
“Choose your enemies carefully, 'cause they will define you,
Make them interesting 'cause in some ways they will mind you
They're not there in the beginning but when your story ends
Gonna last with you longer than your friends.”

Conclusion:
Is it U2’s best album ever? No!
However, its musicianship and creativity level are a lot better than the previous two albums. The album has more guitar solo's from The Edge and the rhythm section for U2 is as ever stable. In fact, Larry and Adam have songs in here in which their playing carried the song (s) and that was something that was really missing in the last two albums.
There’s an obvious shift in their sound. Is it like going from The Joshua Tree to Achtung Baby? No, but it’s definitely a welcomed shift of sound.

On a personal note, I was expecting a bit more of a change in their sound. I was expecting more percussion and more diverse sounds that derived from Middle Eastern descent.

Overall 4 out 5.


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