Attention Coldplay, The Fray, OAR and all other bands posing as important socially relevent rock bands out to save the world... Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen Jr. are back on the scene. That's right, the unassuming band that was once an indy rock band and early MTV darling ("New Year's Day, " "Sunday Bloody Sunday") is back.
U2 is back on the world stage with No Line On The Horizon (Interscope.) The question is, is the world still listening? The album debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 Albums Chart (albeit a couple hundred thousand copies shy of 2004's How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb, ) but the lackluster (compared to what is expected of a band of U2's caliber) early sales have more to do with lack of a major first single then anything about the quality of the album, which is actually pretty good .
The album starts off with the title track, a solid track in typical U2 style, followed by "Magnificant" (originally entitled "French Disco" and co-written by Brian Eno, ) which will be the albums second single, is a song that would fit in fine on the band's now classic 1987 album The Joshua Tree. Bono describes it as a song about "two lovers holding on to each other and trying to turn their life into worship." One of the gems Bono shares in the No Line On The Horizon magazine that comes with the hard to find vinyl version of the album.
You can't go wrong with tracks like "I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight" and "Breathe" "White As Snow" is written from the perspective of a dying solider serving in Afganistan and continutes until he ultimately dies. It is a particularly touching song that gets across U2's stance on the war in that area and on war in general without beating the listener over the head with a message. Regardless of your opinion politically you can't help but be touched by the raw human emotion expressed in Bono's vocals. This is what sets U2 apart from the legion of wannabe successors to their thrown.
First single "Get On Your Boots" comes close to the 90s experimentation of Actung Babyand Zooropa, without fully approaching it .
Overall, No Line On The Horizon is a much more pleasing package than How To Dismantle An Automatic Bomb, both with the lyrics and the overall instrumentation. It is destined to be a future classic in the same vein as Joshua Tree and Boy? Probably not. Does it show why U2 is U2? Absolutely.