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  • Mar 5, 2009
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.

Rating: **** stars

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More No Line On The Horizon reviews
review by . March 23, 2009
In the seventeen years (and counting) that I have been a fan of U2 I have noticed that all U2 fans do not stand united with regards to the style of music they enjoy to hear from U2. Allow me to elaborate, U2 music can fall into two different categories (and these categories have subtext and layers), rock and roll is the first category and outlandish experimentation is the second category. It is then a safe assumption to claim that there are two different types of U2 fans the ones that prefer straight …
review by . March 12, 2009
posted in Music Matters
Pros: "Magnificent," "Stand Up Comedy," "Breathe"     Cons: Studio magic overwhelming at times     The Bottom Line: Please, no more war songs told from the soldier's point of view.     At this point, the praise for any new U2 record being their best since the legendary Achtung Baby album is redundant. It's been done to death. First they released Zooropa, which was their best since Achtung Baby mainly because it couldn't possibly be false. …
review by . March 04, 2009
posted in Music Matters
I've been looking forward to the release of U2's latest album since I first listened to their last album, HOW TO DISMANTLE AN ATOMIC BOMB, about five years ago. U2 is one of the few rock bands that is able to make music that is not only good to listen to, but that is full of spiritual and philosophical meaning and I enjoy most everything of theirs that I've heard.    After having purchased the album and listening to it several times, I admit that I'm a bit disappointed by NO …
review by . March 04, 2009
U2 definitely cares what listeners think of their albums--based on listener reactions, the band corrected "Rattle and Hum" with "Achtung Baby" and "Pop" with "All That You Can't Leave Behind." "No Line on the Horizon" corrects the too-close-to-home "How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb" by leaving home and then setting up on Mars. Accusations that the result is too airy or hollow miss the point: just as "Achtung Baby" arose from the nowhere-bound aggresso-alienation of the Nineties, "No Line on the Horizon" …
review by . March 04, 2009
Standard U2 brilliance.     Way above average cd, compared to the rest of the world, but only slightly above average in U2-land. It's no "Joshua Tree," but that was just amazing kizmit coming together. NLOTH is still a great cd, though I don't see any "stand-outs" right off-- maybe I need to get back after I listen to it a while. It will be interesting to see what floats to the top of popularity. Powerful music - they are just the kings of the music world. Worth a listen.
About the reviewer
Kevin T. Rodriguez ()
Ranked #126
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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No Line On The Horizon, the new studio album from U2, will be released on Tues, March 3, 2009. The band’s 12th studio album calls on the production talents of long-time collaborators Brian Eno and Danny Lanois, with additional production by Steve Lillywhite. The album will be available in 5 different packages.

This version is the standard album CD in a plastic jewel case w /24 page color booklet.
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Label: Interscope Records
Artist: U2
Genre: Pop
Release Date: March 3, 2009
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