22 November 2004

One more day

From Rolling Stone’s review of the album:

Halfway through the excellent new U2 album, Bono announces, “I like
the sound of my own voice.” Well-said, lad; well-said. Ever since
U2 started making noise in Dublin several hundred bloody Sundays
ago, Bono has grooved to the sound of his own gargantuan rockness.
Ego, shmego — this is one rock-star madman who should never scale
down his epic ambitions. As the old Zen proverb goes, you will find
no reasonable men on the tops of great mountains, and U2’s
brilliance is their refusal to be reasonable. U2 were a drag in the
1990s, when they were trying to be cool, ironic hipsters. Feh!
Nobody wants a skinny Santa, and for damn sure nobody wants a
hipster Bono. We want him over the top, playing with unforgettable
fire. We want him to sing in Latin or feed the world or play Jesus
to the lepers in his head. We want him to be Bono. Nobody else is
even remotely qualified.

U2 bring that old-school, wide-awake fervor to How to
Dismantle an Atomic Bomb
. The last time we heard from them,
All That You Can’t Leave Behind, U2 were auditioning for
the job of the World’s Biggest Rock & Roll Band. They trimmed
the Euro-techno pomp, sped up the tempos and let the Edge define
the songs with his revitalized guitar. Well, they got the job.

On Atomic Bomb, they’re not auditioning anymore. This
is grandiose music from grandiose men, sweatlessly confident in the
execution of their duties. Hardly any of the eleven songs break the
five-minute mark or stray from the punchy formula of All That
You Can’t Leave Behind
. They’ve gotten over their midcareer
anxiety about whether they’re cool enough. Now, they just hand it
to the Edge and let it rip.

During the course of Atomic Bomb, you will be urged to
ponder death (“Sometimes You Can’t Make It On Your Own”), birth
(“Original of the Species”), God (“Yahweh”), love (“A Man and a
Woman”), war (“Love and Peace or Else”) and peace (“City of
Blinding Lights”), which barely gives you time to ponder whether
the bassist has been listening to Interpol. “Vertigo” sets the
pace, a thirty-second ad jingle blown up to three great minutes,
with a riff nicked from Sonic Youth’s “Dirty Boots.” “City of
Blinding Lights” begins with a long Edge guitar intro, building
into a bittersweet lament. “Yahweh” continues a U2 tradition, the
album-closing chitchat with the Lord. It’s too long and too slow,
but that’s part of the tradition

…It’s a reminder that what makes U2 so big
isn’t really their clever ideas, or even their intelligence — it’s
the warmth that all too few rock stars have any idea how to turn
into music.

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