New U2 Album No Line on the Horizon

“No Line On The Horizon” (U2)

If you didn’t already download the bittorrent of U2’s album, No Line On The Horizon, Amazon is offering it for $3.99 at the moment. I’m not the biggest of U2 fans, but $4 is a pretty good sweet spot.

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.

Click here for the MP3 download page New U2 album No Line on the Horizon.

Blue Event Horizon

Stephen Thomas Erlewine of Allmusic mostly likes it:

After scrapping sessions with Rick Rubin and flirting with, U2 reunited with Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois (here billed as “Danny” for some reason), who not only produced The Joshua Tree but pointed the group toward aural architecture on The Unforgettable Fire. Much like All That You Can’t and Atomic Bomb, which were largely recorded with their first producer, Steve Lillywhite, this is a return to the familiar for U2, but where their Lillywhite LPs are characterized by muscle, the Eno/Lanois records are where the band take risks, and so it is here that U2 attempts to recapture that spacy, mysterious atmosphere of The Unforgettable Fire and then take it further. Contrary to the suggestion of the clanking, sputtering first single “Get on Your Boots” — its riffs and “Pump It Up” chant sounding like a cheap mashup stitched together in GarageBand — this isn’t a garish, gaudy electro-dalliance in the vein of Pop. Apart from a stilted middle section — “Boots,” the hamfisted white-boy funk “Stand Up Comedy,” and the not-nearly-as-bad-as-its-title anthem “I’ll Go Crazy if I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight”; tellingly, the only three songs here to not bear co-writing credits from Eno and Lanois — No Line on the Horizon is all austere grey tones and midtempo meditation.

It’s a record that yearns to be intimate but U2 don’t do intimate, they only do majestic, or as Bono sings on one of the albums best tracks, they do “Magnificent.” Here, as on “No Line on the Horizon” and “Breathe,” U2 strike that unmistakable blend of soaring, widescreen sonics and unflinching openhearted emotion that’s been their trademark, turning the intimate into something hauntingly universal. These songs resonate deeper and longer than anything on Atomic Bomb, their grandeur almost seeming effortless. It’s the rest of the record that illustrates how difficult it is to sound so magnificent. With the exception of that strained middle triptych, the rest of the album is in the vein of “No Line on the Horizon” and “Breathe,” only quieter and unfocused, with its ideas drifting instead of gelling. Too often, the album whispers in a murmur so quiet it’s quite easy to ignore — “White as Snow,” an adaptation of a traditional folk tune, and “Cedars of Lebanon,” its verses not much more than a recitation, simmer so slowly they seem to evaporate — but at least these poorly defined subtleties sustain the hazily melancholy mood of No Line on the Horizon. When U2, Eno, and Lanois push too hard — the ill-begotten techno-speak overload of “Unknown Caller,” the sound sculpture of “Fez-Being Born” — the ideas collapse like a pyramid of cards, the confusion amplifying the aimless stretches of the album, turning it into a murky muddle.

[Click to continue reading The Allmusic Blog » U2 – No Line on the Horizon]

Meanwhile, Pitchfork’s Ryan Dombal hated it:

Meanwhile, the album’s ballyhooed experimentation is either terribly misguided or hidden underneath a wash of shameless U2-isms (the three-note ring Edge nicks from “Walk On” for “Unknown Caller”, the “oh oh oh” outro from “Stay” apparently copied and pasted into “Moment of Surrender”, etc.). While Eno used to work his unique sound-bobbles and ambiance into the fabric of U2 songs, he seems content to offer spacey intros totally disassociated from their accompanying tunes here (see: “Fez – Being Born”, “Magnificent”). And oftentimes the band mistakes risk-taking for ill-fated arrangements and decisions. “Surrender”– reportedly improvised in one seven-minute take– comes across as lazy indulgence, and the title track’s hard-nosed verse is torpedoed by its deflating fart of a hook. As the go-to sonic innovator of the group, the Edge dials in a particularly dispiriting performance throughout; his rare solos usually pack in enough panache to fill stadiums but his bluesy blah of a spotlight on “Surrender” would barely satisfy a single earbud.

“It keeps getting harder. You’re playing against yourself and you don’t want to lose,” Adam Clayton told Q last month. And he’s got a point. After nearly 30 years of chart crashing and sell-outs, starting afresh can’t be easy. There’s only one “One”. In a way, U2 spoiled their followers by consistently questioning themselves while writing songs that straddled the personal and collective consciousness. But Horizon is clearly playing not to lose– it’s a defensive gesture, and a rather pitiful one at that.

[Click to continue reading No Line on the Horizon | Pitchfork]

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