U2 - No Line on the Horizon
below are my initial thoughts after my first few listens of the new U2 release that i pre-ordered from iTunes and downloaded today.
Please note, these thoughts could easily change after repeated listens...
No Line on the Horizon - a nice, new sound to a brand new record... what else could one ask for? There is tension in the vocals, it seems. Repeated listens made this opening track more enjoyable. There are many layers here, compliments of Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois, I’m sure. There are elements of this song and others on this album that remind me of mid-90’s recordings, Pop & Zooropa. Not sure why. I think some of the sound & instrumental elements of this song and Magnificent reminded me of Lady With the Spinning Head, but with a different lyrical tone to the lyrics. Really, though, U2 dared to make a record that was not really like anything they have recorded in a while. The complex layers are enjoyable.
Magnificent - This might be the best song on this album. I could imagine this song being the song of the summer... It has enough of a pop feel in it, matched with a driving hook of a chorus “Only love can heal such a scar.” Powerful lyrics! The final minute and 30 seconds are magnificent. Edge seems free. That is a beautiful thing to hear.
Moment of Surrender - A soulful slow jam or sorts with nice use of what appears to be a Hammond B3 or some sort of keyboard. I like the pacing of the song and the soulful lyrics. i do not like, what becomes a recurring theme on this album: the many vocals on the chorus. Producers Daniel Lanois and Brian Eno are providing backing vocals with Edge. Not a fan. Maybe it’s because i’m not used to that sound coming from U2 - Bono leading and Edge backing is what i’d prefer. This will be a fun one to play live, i am sure. I can see the potential for an improvised guitar solo - which is not customary to any U2 show, but Edge is certainly capable of pulling it off.
Unknown Caller - Musically, i like the slow build. 1 min. 50 seconds until the first verse is a nice change from the traditional U2. Again, no fan of the group vocals on the chorus. “Restart and reboot yourself... Force quit and move to trash”? Possibly the cheesiest lyrics ever written by a band that commands higher expectations. Enjoyable instrumentation at the end. There seems to be a lot of freedom in this song.
I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight - At first i wasn’t keen on the title. The first words “She’s a rainbow and she loves the peaceful life” sort of drag you in and hook you right from the start, though. I’ve already said this, but this song also has nice pacing to it... a nice, natural, fresh flow of sorts.
Get On Your Boots - Ever since this single was released over a month ago, I was not a huge fan. First off I didn’t like it as a lead single... certainly not up to Vertigo’s standards or even Beautiful Day, for that matter. U2’s success in the 2000’s has been strongly based on their lead singles. I will admit that the song has grown on me and hearing it in it’s placement on the album (track 6) seems to fit. Does anybody else find that the verses seem to resemble The Escape Club’s ‘Wild Wild West’ from the late 80’s? One thing enjoyable from this song is that it is one of many songs on this album that showcase Adam Clayton’s bass playing ability. Well deserved.
Stand Up Comedy - Not real excited about this title either. I like the guitar effects late in the song. I have to admit that this song loosely reminds me of a contemporary christian pop song. i swear i’ve heard a song or two like this at one of those christian summer music festivals.
Fez - Being Born - Very unique and strong opening, all the way into the first verse of Being Born. The drumming of Larry Mullen Jr. was is highlighted on this song - nice cadence & rhythm. The solid underlying instrumentation makes this song great. Terry Lawless plays keys on this song, too. i wonder if the band will include other musicians when they go on tour?
White as Snow - This is a beautiful song with beautiful, heartfelt lyrics. Kind of sounds like a christmas song... ‘O come o come Emanuel’ anyone? did i mention how great the lyrics are on this one? This song has a new sound to it and for that i am grateful. A testament to the fact that U2 did not want to recreate former albums... probably why they abandoned some of the songs from the Rick Rueben sessions. Something new and fresh was needed. Something new and fresh has been given.
Breathe - A song that adds to the strong 2nd half of this new record. I particularly enjoyed the pacing of Bono’s lyrics on this track. I should write more, but i got caught up in the song. I guess that is a good thing.
Cedars of Lebanon - Bono paints a picture of a lyrical story that danced around in my head. Easily the most contemplative song ever written or recorded by U2. This song appears to be the guts of a man in the midst of war, away from home for too long. Maybe it’s a metaphor of the inner battles man faces in the midst of hard-fought trials. Maybe it’s a crying out to God, asking “Where are you?” ... saying “reveal yourself to me... i beg of you.” It’s a chilling song that ends the album on a high note, forcing the listener into the middle of a web of contemplation.