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U2 - No Line On The Horizon
off into the horizon
Review by Tony BonyataIn 2006 during the genesis of U2's twelfth studio album, No Line On The Horizon, the band's frontman Bono had proclaimed on a radio interview that they were not about to rest on their laurels for their next release. "We're gonna continue to be a band," the singer stated, "but maybe the rock will have to go; maybe the rock has to get a lot harder. But whatever it is, it's not gonna stay where it is."
Fast forward a year-and-a-half later with the release of No Line On The Horizon and the rock of their glory days is not only still ever-present, but it really isn't any harder than in the past either, which, in the case of this record, isn't such a bad thing. It certainly isn't the drastic change the band undertook with their vastly underrated albums 1993's Zooropa and Pop released in '97 (both which delved heavily into electronica, dance and ambient soundscapes).
While the Irish quartet did originally start things off with a big change for this album - utilizing the proven talents of producer Rick Rubin (Beastie Boys, Johnny Cash, Red Hot Chili Peppers) those recordings were shelved and the band instead returned to their own comfort zone with Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois once again helming the boards. And the familiarity is apparent on the arena-ready anthem "Magnificent" as well as The Edge's trademark guitar stylings on the call-and-response pop of "Unknown Caller." But instead of regurgitating the past, these familiar moments only remind us why U2 is still, perhaps, the most popular rock band on the planet. The foursome also touch on the more subdued, with tracks like the reflective "Cedars of Lebanon" and the ambient pop-meets-world music of "FEZ-Being Born," before flexing more musical muscle on numbers like the intoxicating opening title track, the riff-heavy "Stand Up Comedy" and the first single from the record "Get On Your Boots." The latter which, surprisingly, turns out to be the weakest link in the chain, with Bono nicking the vocal rhythm from Elvis Costello's "Pump It Up" for this fuzzed-up rocker that ultimately goes nowhere.
But like any great U2 album - and there are undoubtedly a few of them out there - they always manage to bring at least one exquisite song to the table. And that moment of brilliance shines blindingly bright on the beautiful "Moment Of Surrender," a transcendental melodic composition that soars to great heights as it combines a sense of peace, spirituality and hope in a time of uncertainty - elements often present in the best of their work. While No Line On The Horizon may not be the drastic sea change that Bono had originally foreseen for U2 and this album, it's, nonetheless, a very strong effort from a band that obviously still has a lot to say, even it's not entirely new.
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