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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    U2 stays relevant with no line on the horizon

    The great thing about Irish rockers U2 is their consistency; if you’re not thrilled with a progressive new album of theirs, you can always take solace in the fact that an even newer, more progressive one will replace it faster than you can count to “”Uno, dos, tres, catorce!”” Five years after the mildly successful and heavily hyped How To Dismantle an Atomic Bomb, Bono and the boys offer their next venture into adult-contemporary alterna-rock with No Line on The Horizon, just in time for all those fans who have finally become sick of making love and saving the world while listening to “”Vertigo.””

    No Line on The Horizon is unmistakably U2: it’s got all the melodic guitar swoops, the dramatic “”Oohs”” and “”Woahs”” of catchy male harmonization, the steady rhythm of competent drummer Larry Mullen Jr. and bassist Adam Clayton, the preachy global change lyrics, and, of course, the Bono. Oh, Bono. If your voice wasn’t so soaring and confident, I just might slap you for polluting otherwise-tolerable rock songs with intolerable lyrics like “”The future needs a big kiss””.

    In fact, it is the lyrics that are the biggest flaw on this album that is, for the most part, consistently rocking. Bono’s wailing warble can turn even the most preachy and cliché words into a dramatic musical manifesto, but on this new album he truly crosses that nonexistent line on the horizon, descending into what I can only describe as douchebaggery. “”Stand Up Comedy,”” for example, contains the heaviest guitar and bass rhythm on the whole album, but the song’s head-banging allure is quickly drowned by the pretension of its lyrics, including the echoes of the most overused, disingenuous phrase in all change-oriented rock, “”Come all you people.”” I thought we abandoned that kind of talk in the ’70s.

    But lyrics alone do not make an album. Musically speaking, No Line on The Horizon peaks on its opening title track, launching immediately into a galloping guitar/drum rhythm that is complemented with just the right balance of Bono’s lyricism and unintelligible moaning. The following tracks fall into a heavy adult-contemporary mode, including slow, melodramatic ballads about love-makin’ and “”The Moment of Surrender.”” The album’s first single, “”Get on Your Boots,”” has a straight-forward, electric purr that would make it a rock’n’roll essential if not for the insipid “”big kiss”” lyrics. Several nondescript songs later, the album culminates with “”Cedars of Lebanon,”” a meditative, melancholy recollection of a dying city, and one of the most original tracks U2 has produced in years.

    Overall, No Line on The Horizon is vintage U2 through and through, which would make it a great addition to, say, your parents’ vinyl library, but would only gather digital dust in your own iTunes folder. The preachy lyrics and sentimentalist themes about love make it somewhat of an enigma for a college audience, despite the consistent musicality. Take this album with a grain of salt, and worry not: after the band’s next string of humanitarian distractions (“”iPhones for Darfur”” perhaps) a new album will flop onto shelves, and into over-hyped commercials near you soon enough.

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