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U2 - No Line on the Horizon (March 2009)


Josh Hurst
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The only song I will have heard before that day is "Get on Your Boots."

I made it until last night until even hearing this - and that was accidentally while radio channel surfing in the car. My initial reaction was not good. Upon first listen, "Get on Your Boots" really does nothing for me. I think this marks the first time I've ever not immediately liked a U2 single. I have no idea what that means or how to respond.

"It's a dangerous business going out your front door." -- J.R.R. Tolkien
"I want to believe in art-induced epiphanies." -- Josie
"I would never be dismissive of pop entertainment; it's much too serious a matter for that." -- NBooth

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"What if--just what if--the very act of storytelling is itself redemptive? What if gathering up the scraps and fragments of a disordered life and binding them between the pages of a book in all of their fragmentary disorder is itself a gambit against that disorder?" -- NBooth

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Listening to it now. I don't know what a reinvention is supposed to be, but there's stuff on here that feels like what Vida La Viva felt for Coldplay -- more experimental than the past two albums for sure. It's still U2, but they are at the very least aiming to stretch out a bit. Maybe it's producers more than it is even U2. It's going to take a couple of listens to get used to this. Maybe twenty or so, we'll see.

In an interstellar burst, I am back to save the Universe.

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Overstreet wrote:

: Click on the album icon down in the music player. Not the one next to the single on top, but just below that.

I see no album icon. Did I miss it? (If not, can someone screen-cap it, post the screen-cap here, and point out where we all should be looking?)

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Overstreet wrote:

: Click on the album icon down in the music player. Not the one next to the single on top, but just below that.

I see no album icon. Did I miss it? (If not, can someone screen-cap it, post the screen-cap here, and point out where we all should be looking?)

Hi Peter,

If you're trying to listen from Canada, then it might not work. I read somewhere that it's only streaming in the U.S. I can't seem to stream it either (here in Ontario); all I see is the "get on your boots" single. I guess I'll just have to wait a few more days.

Edited by Mike D.
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Sheesh. Well if that's the case, then I certainly would have no conscience qualms listening to one of the PIRATED copies out there.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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I've had the opportunity to listen to the entire album a few times. I'm not bowled over by anything here. Then again, I certainly have warmed up to several of the songs and overall probably like it a great deal more than Atomic Bomb. The biggest problem with this album-- and it's one that is very difficult for me to overlook-- is that U2 does not know how to record rock n roll songs in the studio anymore. It's probably never been their forte-- at least not for the past two decades-- but when they try and splash down with a jaunty little groove or some swiped chromatic riff , something about it seems contrived and pillow-soft. Their cohorts, Eno, Lanois and Lillywhite probably share a good part of the guilt in this regard. Horizon is embedded with feathery strains of Sting. Or Coldplay.

What shines here are their efforts to act their age. The slow-burn, introspective numbers sound relaxed and alive and make it clear that this is the type of music they should concentrate on. White as Snow and Cedars standout. Moment of Surrender is beautiful but Eno's heavily plate-reverbed piano and strings seriously dampen what could've been a raw, throat-grabbing moment.

"The things we enjoy are channels through which the divine glory strikes us, and those who love and delight in any good thing may yet learn to love God." --Gilbert Meilaender

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I'm sorry to hear that. Some of the stuff on Pop really rocked, but in a techno kind of way. (I am so sick of hearing people rip on that album. I think it's fantastic. All the way through. Chris Wilman argues that Pop is their best album of all.) Since Pop, though... yeah. Everything's been too soft-serve, too polished. Achtung Baby was such an amazing fusion of searing guitars and exciting new textures, but it had that raw, live feel that nothing they've done since really captures. And to hear you say "Sting" and "Coldplay"... oh, please, say it isn't so....

Edited by Overstreet

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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The rocking songs aren't bad, per se, but sound canned. Like they're covered with this studio-produced sheen, or something.
Exactly. And it's not that they dont know how to rock; i'm sure many of these songs will positively cook on stage. It's that they dont seem to know how to properly capture that "moment" in the studio anymore. Their philosophy of recording in the early part of their career was more focused on documenting a particular, unique performance than assembling piles of studio-born layers, which is where their attention seems to be now . Older recordings like Wire or Like a Song were snapshots of these little dynamic moments in time. In that framework, the music rocked and literally burst at the seams. I don't hear that explosion anymore in their up-tempo tunes.

"The things we enjoy are channels through which the divine glory strikes us, and those who love and delight in any good thing may yet learn to love God." --Gilbert Meilaender

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The rocking songs aren't bad, per se, but sound canned. Like they're covered with this studio-produced sheen, or something.
Exactly. And it's not that they dont know how to rock; i'm sure many of these songs will positively cook on stage. It's that they dont seem to know how to properly capture that "moment" in the studio anymore. Their philosophy of recording in the early part of their career was more focused on documenting a particular, unique performance than assembling piles of studio-born layers, which is where their attention seems to be now . Older recordings like Wire or Like a Song were snapshots of these little dynamic moments in time. In that framework, the music rocked and literally burst at the seams. I don't hear that explosion anymore in their up-tempo tunes.

Welcome to the wonderful world of Daniel Lanois and Brian Eno. IMO, that's what they do. They suck the life out of all who cross their path, and put a nice Lanois/Eno glaze on everything and make U2 sound like Emmylou Harris sound like Bob Dylan. This is not a good thing, particularly for the girls. U2 make nice, mannered rock 'n roll these days. Lanois and Eno fit in just fine with that approach. But I agree; I miss the sound of Larry Mullen Jr. just socking the hell out of his drumkit, a la "Like a Song."

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I'm waiting for the special edition U2 "Boots" Ipod. ::headphones::

How many more days until March 3rd? I'm trying to resist the tempation until then to check out the digital stream. Oh, the temptations of the flesh! ::let_it_all_out::

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The rocking songs aren't bad, per se, but sound canned. Like they're covered with this studio-produced sheen, or something.
Exactly. And it's not that they dont know how to rock; i'm sure many of these songs will positively cook on stage. It's that they dont seem to know how to properly capture that "moment" in the studio anymore. Their philosophy of recording in the early part of their career was more focused on documenting a particular, unique performance than assembling piles of studio-born layers, which is where their attention seems to be now . Older recordings like Wire or Like a Song were snapshots of these little dynamic moments in time. In that framework, the music rocked and literally burst at the seams. I don't hear that explosion anymore in their up-tempo tunes.

Welcome to the wonderful world of Daniel Lanois and Brian Eno. IMO, that's what they do. They suck the life out of all who cross their path, and put a nice Lanois/Eno glaze on everything and make U2 sound like Emmylou Harris sound like Bob Dylan. This is not a good thing, particularly for the girls. U2 make nice, mannered rock 'n roll these days. Lanois and Eno fit in just fine with that approach. But I agree; I miss the sound of Larry Mullen Jr. just socking the hell out of his drumkit, a la "Like a Song."

I've just finished reading the Neil Young biography, Shakey, and reading about the Young-Briggs philosophy of recording confirms my suspicions that the way most bands records these days is designed to take the life out of the whole thing. The Young-Briggs philosophy seems to be to perform the song while the person singing it is still buzzing with it, then get it onto tape (ok, so there's no tape anymore, or not much anyway) with as little interference as possible.

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I've just finished reading the Neil Young biography, Shakey, and reading about the Young-Briggs philosophy of recording confirms my suspicions that the way most bands records these days is designed to take the life out of the whole thing. The Young-Briggs philosophy seems to be to perform the song while the person singing it is still buzzing with it, then get it onto tape (ok, so there's no tape anymore, or not much anyway) with as little interference as possible.
Right. Document the song idea as close to the time of its "birth" as you possibly can. But there's also the jazz recording approach, which is to document more than just an instance of the band playing their parts together, but aims to capture something truly unique or peculiar about a particular performance.

"The things we enjoy are channels through which the divine glory strikes us, and those who love and delight in any good thing may yet learn to love God." --Gilbert Meilaender

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Here are some credits and additional info on the Anton Corbijn film "Linear" that accompanies the deluxe version(s) of the album. After reading Corbijn's introduction, I'm very interested in the visual component of this project. Note that the "track listing" for the film follows a different running order and eliminates the song "I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight" but substitutes a non-album track, "Winter."
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Bono is interviewed on tonight's Front Row on Radio 4. It's not listed on their webpage yet, but you can listen live or listen again from the above link. Heard a brief clip on This Morning and it sounded pretty interesting - they asked whether he felt like a hypocrite dealing with George Bush to which he replied that he is a one cause campaigner.

"There is, it would seem, in the dimensional scale of the world a kind of delicate meeting place between imagination and knowledge, a point, arrived at by diminishing large things and enlarging small ones, that is intrinsically artistic" - Vladimir Nabokov

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