Friday, February 20, 2009

My Review of No Line on the Horizon

Thanks to the good folks at Universal Music Australia (who have certainly been sacked by now), I have got my hands on U2's No Line on the Horizon.  I was very concerned about the quality of the album when I heard "Get On Your Boots," the only officially released song from the album.  It was not a good first single at all - tough to get into, lyrics that seemed to be all over the place, and an incoherent sonic structure.  I did end up liking it okay, which is to say about as much as "Vertigo," which in and of itself didn't grab me on U2's last album.  Nevertheless, I am extraordinarily happy to say that "Get On Your Boots" is the worst song on No Line on the Horizon.
It's hard to describe NLOTH in any sort of pithy way.  It's a definite departure from the sound that they had starting with All That You Can't Leave Behind and ending with the U2:18 Singles songs.  If you've been listening to U2 long enough, you can hear bits and pieces of their sound from Achtung Baby, some from Zooropa, Pop, Joshua Tree, and even Boy.  There's also a healthy smattering of some new sound in there as well.  It's an extraordinary album, easily the best thing they've put out in the past 15 years.  I would also say that it's the best complete album put out in that timeframe too.  There are songs that are better, perhaps even albums with multiple better songs.  At the same time, those albums tend to have strong material and weak material.  Take Gwen Stefani's The Great Escape.  There are 4 songs on there that I think are phenominal, but there's an additional 7 that are absolutely hideous.  It's the most bipolar album I've ever heard.  That's what's so amazing about NLOTH.  The a-side is great, but the b-side might be just as strong...something that I haven't heard since Achtung Baby.  You would be doing yourself a great disservice if you didn't go out and grab it or download it as soon as it is actually released.  Is it their best album ever?  Not upon 5 listens in 24 hours.  It has the potential to get close to Joshua Tree and Achtung Baby, but I don't know that it will ever pass them.  It's definitely the third best U2 album ever though.
How the songs rate (best to worst)
1. Breathe
2. Magnificent
3. FEZ - Being Born
4. White as Snow
5. Unknown Caller
6. No Line on the Horizon
7. I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight
8. Stand Up Comedy
9. Moment of Surrender
10. Cedars of Lebanon
11. Get On Your Boots

Except for Get On Your Boots, this is tough to do, because they're all great songs.  I'm seriously shocked at how much I love it.  It's like no album I've ever picked up on release.  With everything before 1996, I got to the albums after they'd been picked clean of singles, so I knew what to expect.  Since I became an active music collector though, I've never popped something in and wanted to listen to it again and again - without knowing where I want to start.  It's truly a revelation.


themickel said...

That is really good to hear. I too was worried after hearing Boots.

The real question is "Where do I get my pre-release copy, Sorro?"

Sorro said...

I can let you know, if you get on a messenger program with me - you know my gmail chat.

Sorro said...

In other news, my song ranking has changed:
1. FEZ - Being Born
2. Magnificent
3. Breathe
4. White as Snow
5. Unknown Caller
6. No Line on the Horizon
7. Cedars of Lebanon
8. Moment of Surrender
9. I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight
10. Stand Up Comedy
11. Get On Your Boots

This album has also solidified it's #3 position, and after 25+ listens, it's definitely up in the rarefied air of Achtung Baby and Joshua Tree

Michael Brady said...

i'm only on my third full listen-through. i don't have a song ranking yet. i must say that this reminds me of their "passengers" album a great deal. "moment of surrender" = "your blue room" in mood and feel, and that ain't a bad thing!

on the first listen-though, i wasn't hearing what sorro was all gaga over. but now i am hearing some really, REALLY good tunes that will endure. i am tickled with the quality of this record.

i have the feeling that "boots" will turn into a "bullet the blue sky" kind of track; ie, one that i misunderstood at first, but grew to look forward to it, especially live. it's already growing on me.