Now, if I were to describe my feelings towards No Line on the Horizon, before spinning it, I’d definitely disapprove of anticipation and call for skepticism. Few albums were given in the past years, that promised to become huge slumps, only to transcend to classic LP status. I almost was prepared to abandon all hope for a successful album, after I heard the painfully mediocre first single “Get On Your Boots,” but luckily I was proven wrong. Not only that, but as each day breaks, and as each spin goes by, I feel NLOTH is steadily becoming one of those rare classics.
Beware though, this isn’t by far a perfect album. Actually, it’s no where near the sheer beauty of Joshua Tree, and there’s quite a few stumps well within NLOTR, although not that obvious – things like the somewhat ever present over-pretentious lyrics and Bono’s ego issues. But, really, these all little differences get dwarfed when you thing of the No Line on the Horizon as a whole.
One can’t really say the album has a theme gripped to it, but U2’s world changing belief is still very much rooted within. It’s nice to see U2’s has yet to be budged back one inch by the numerous compilations, concerts, campaigns that wielded no effect, and instead kept on going, baring the flag for today’s humanitarianism in music.
NLOTR feels more like a collection of stories, of recollections – an album of witnesses. White As Snow, in example, tries to tell the story of a dying soldier in Afghanistan through a beautiful prog rock ballad. Speaking of prog, the whole album kinda inclines towards that direction – don’t think the arena anthems are gone; no way. Probably that’s the main reason why this album is a sinker. It’s not really the kind of U2 you can spin and sing along from the first beat, it’s the kind of album you sit back and listen.
The title track opener kicks off NLOTR with a intensely inspirational piece, quickly following-up with “Magnificent” a track where both Bono and Edge shine as bright with as the sky! Perfect guitar riffs going hand-in-hand with Bono’s resonating oh-woos and commanding vocals. Stand Up Comedy puts out Bono’s dodgier style and somewhat reminisces the good ol’ Zooropa days – highly up-beat, highly contagious!
Worth noting is the production work of both Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois, two long-lasting collaborators of the band, who’ve also actively contributed to the song writing, with Eno’s soft keys adding a further degree of depth. Let’s not forget Steve Lillywhite either, the third man at the buttons. All three managed to produce a top notch record both in sound and overall musical quality.
FEZ-Being Born is another oh-woo anthem, very fit for both a stadium audience and an solitary iPod listen, thanks to its eastern harmonies and chill out vibe. On Breathe The Edge’s guitar work is simply stunning! Grit and raw power is the formula in this song, instant crowd pleaser.
No Line on the Horizon is definitely a sturdy addition to U2’s golden discography, proving once more that the band’s far from done. Few bands can get from rock superheroes, to condemned tar pit dinosaurs by the media, to back in the game again. It takes determination, perseverance, talent and lots of hard rock. For that, I salut you, U2!