Review of U2's album 'No Line On The Horizon' released through Mercury Records.
A media frenzy, leaked songs and a slot opening the Grammys, you would have thought that it wasn't possible for the hype around U2's new album to get any bigger. Then Bono announces 'If this isn't our best album, we're irrelevant' and raises the bar one more notch. This is a brave move when talking about a band's 12th studio album.
If you are expecting the immediate impact of past albums such as Boy, The Joshua Tree and Achtung Baby, you may be disappointed. On first impressions No Line On The Horizon lacks this impact, but it is a definite 'grower'.
Choosing Get Your Boots as a debut single was a dubious decision, the rough electronic based track with lyrics about 'sexy boots' seems too try hard and doesn't have any of the pure emotion that make U2 such a legendary band. The same goes for I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight; although the melody and guitar are exactly the quality you'd expect of U2, the lyrics just don't fit - 'every sweet tooth needs just a little hit, every beauty needs to go out with an idiot'.
However, with crisp production provided by the heavy hitting trio Brian Eno, Daniel Lanois and Steve Lillywhite, it has definite moments of U2 brilliance. The title track has all the impact you'd hope for, it is then followed by Magnificent, classic U2 in all their glory. Adam Clayton's heavy base line, Bono's vocals full of emotion and a beautiful, melodic guitar solo from The Edge. Moment of surrender too, is U2 at their best, a lengthy gospel tinged number, full of feeling and emotion that does not feel like its full 7mins 24 seconds.
No Line On The Horizon is a great U2 album, but not their best. However, despite what Bono says, they will never be 'irrelevant'. 'I was born to sing for you' sings Bono on Magnificent, and he might just be right. It will still be a huge record commercially, and it has flashes of brilliance that only U2 can deliver. However, rather than pushing the boundaries and offering something new from the Kings of Rock, it relies on their age old formula and so is likely to convert those who aren't already fans.