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No Line On The Horizon

U2's 12th studio album.

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  • Apr 14, 2009
  • by
Title: No Line On The Horizon
Band: U2
Producer: Brian Eno, Daniel Lanois
Label: Interscope
Parental Advisory: No
If You Can Only Buy One Song Make It: No Line On The Horizon

Unlike most music lovers I'm only an average U2 fan. Oh don't get me wrong: They write great music, but it's not like I've been a loyal fan for their whole career or anything. It's only fairly recently I've gotten into their material, and even then the only album of theirs that I absolutely loved was "The Joshua Tree." U2's last album was released about five years ago. That album was "How To Dismantle The Atomic Bomb," a CD that was wildly loved by critics and fans, managed to win 9 Grammies (including Best Album), but I thought it was overindulgent nonsense. Some of the tunes were decent, but the band threw so many different sound effects and noise in the background that it was distracting. When I heard the new single "Get Your Boots On" I thought we were in trouble.

Talk about a lame tuneless song. Had U2 become one of those has-beens like the Rolling Stones; content to release new material regardless of quality? Well I now have the full album of "No Line On The Horizon"...and I have to say, this is a huge, HUGE improvement! Though some guitar riffs can still be found on the album this is a more thoughtful, mature, and focused album then some of the more recent albums U2 has released. I was fearing U2 may have become too mainstream to release anything of significance anymore, especially after the overtly poppy "Pop," syrupy "All That I Can't Leave Behind," and overproduced "How To Dismantle The Atomic Bomb." It feels like U2 has been on a long, long vacation. But now they are back on their home turf and it feels good to have them home.

The opening track (which is also the title track) shows a contemplative U2 questioning life and it's meaning. This theme continues throughout the whole album with different tempos and subjects, but the underlying theme is always there. Some of the highlights include "Breath," "FEZ-Being Born," "White As Snow," and "Moment of Surrender." Though I'm still no fan of "Get Your Boots" on the placement of the song makes it much better when listening to the album in full. In fact, this song makes so much more sense in it's chronological order I can't fathom listening to it out of context again. It's easy to see why it was picked as the single: In an album full of songs that aren't singles, this seemed like the most radio friendly song with it's upbeat tempo and The Edge's guitar skills working full force.

Still, people who heard this song on the radio and hated are urged to not let that prevent them from buying this album, as these songs were never meant to work alone. Which is another reason the last few albums failed: They weren't really albums. U2 seemed to be trying to make singles, where listening to the whole album wasn't a necessity. This didn't prevent some gems from coming from them, but it did prevent the albums from being great listens all the way through. Compare their first greatest hits album to their second and you'll get an idea of how radically different the songs were written. The first compilation was barely tolerable without the rest of the albums to accompany the songs. The second compilation...eh, you'd never know these songs came from albums in the first place.

I also want to take a moment to comment on the artwork. Far too long has album artwork been less and less important in the MP3 age, where most music buyers don't even look at the pictures anymore. So bad has this gotten that most albums simply slap a picture of the singer/band on front and call it a day. For this album U2 hired famous Japanese photographer Hiroshi Sugimoto to design the cover. And he delivered one of the most poetic album covers in years. The cover seems so important to the name of the album and the content of the record. You might not be able to listen to the music without thinking of it it's so important.

I don't like using this term often because it gets thrown around way to much whenever a big band releases a new album. Don't pretend folks, you know this gets said every. Single. TIME! But I'll say it none-the-less: This is U2's best album in years. It's sophisticated, brilliant, and haunting. I can't wait to hear what they'll think of next.

Cover artwork

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About the reviewer
Kevin T. Rodriguez ()
Ranked #127
Kevin T. Rodriguez is an aspiring film journalist. He's more comfortable typing a review then doing an on-camera appearance, but he loves doing the occasional rant. Whether it be on movies, eBay, or comics, … more
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About this album


No Line on the Horizon is the twelfth studio album by Irish rock band U2, released on 27 February 2009. The album is U2's first since 2004's How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb, the longest gap between studio albums in the band's career. The material was originally intended to be released as two EPs, titled Daylight and Darkness, but the band later decided to combine them into one album.

U2 began work on a new studio album in 2006 with Rick Rubin but later decided to shelve most of the material from those sessions. The band collaborated with producers Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois from June 2007–December 2008 for the album, allowing them to be involved in the songwriting process. Writing and recording for the album took place in four different cities. The album was planned for release in November 2008, but the band had written approximately 50–60 songs and wished to continue writing.

Prior to release, the band indicated that their collaborations with Eno and Lanois, as well as the brief time they spent in Fez, Morocco, resulted in a record more experimental than their previous two albums. Upon release, No Line on the Horizon received generally favourable reviews from critics, although many noted the album was not as experimental as previously suggested. The band has indicated plans to release a follow-up record entitled Songs of Ascent sometime in 2009 or 2010. U2 will be supporting No Line on the Horizon with the U2 360° Tour.

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