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U2 Stretching horizons in new album

BY RACHAEL LANDER | MARCH 3, 2009 7:20 AM

***** out of *****

mp3 sample: U2

"Get on Your Boots"

U2 lead singer Bono’s pleasing sex voice has returned with more force than ever. The band’s latest album, No Line on the Horizon, is everything fans have been drooling in anticipation over. With lyrics and melodies that offer more than just Bono’s vox, No Line on the Horizon is nothing if not a gift from God.

In the ’80s, when U2 released its album Boy, it was more than apparent that these lads were going places faster than Britney Spears’ sanity. The Irish hunks’ album débuted to fabulous reviews, earning them the attention of people around the world.

With their ability to take on heavy subjects, including religion, in their lyrics, Bono, the Edge, Adam Clayton, and Larry Mullen Jr., threw convention away and took on their own style. With the band’s ESP-like ability to morph itself to fit what its fans crave, U2 has been able to keep itself alive and successful for the past 30 years.

One of the remarkable things about U2, which holds true to its newest CD, is its drive to create new styles. The band is known for releasing an album (take War, for instance) with a hard-rock sound, and then turning around releasing its next CD (in this case, The Unforgettable Fire) with lighter tunes.

Had almost any other band messed with its sound as much as U2 has, it would have failed immediately. Bono and the boys can pull it off as well as they do because they’re more than just a band — they define three generations of rock.

“No Line on the Horizon,” the title track, opens the album with force. Bono’s intense voice carries on a sweet melody that foreshadows the brilliant album to come. As the CD flows through each song, the passion behind the words is unmistakable, and U2 draws listeners in to another piece of art with each track.

No Line on the Horizon is U2’s 12th studio album, and without a doubt is the band’s 12th success. With tunes that weave in the band’s mellower side and lyrics that touch on weighty subjects, U2 stays true to itself by dabbling in religion, love, and war.

One standout, “White As Snow,” has lyrics which include the phrase “Once I knew there was a love divine / Then came a time I thought I knew me not / Who can forgive forgiveness when forgiveness is not / Only the land as white as snow.” Only U2 can pull off using subtle religious references mixed with forgiveness as a lyrical theme and do it with a sultry and classy melody.

While some of the band’s albums (notably War and All That You Can’t Leave Behind) feature a number of upbeat melodies, No Line on the Horizon offers a slower vibe similar to 1987’s The Joshua Tree. While U2’s latest still has fast-paced tunes, such as the single “Get On Your Boots,” many of the songs are slow, sexy, and just plain beautiful.

The boys have remastered and re-released many of their albums, as well greatest-hits compilations, but the band has never taken so long to put out a new album. No Line on the Horizon is the band’s first release since 2004’s How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb (two new songs on U218 Singles does not satisfy the U2 craving). Yet with a classic band such as U2, it can take all the time it needs to produce a new album, because with the wait comes the payoff of an album that rivals all its past releases.

Rachael’s Picks: “No Line on the Horizon,” “Magnificent,” and “Get on Your Boots”


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