- No Line on the Horizon (4:12)
- Magnificent (5:24)
- Moment of Surrender (7:24)
- Unknown Caller (6:03)
- I’ll Go Crazy If I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight (4:14)
- Get on Your Boots (3:25)
- Stand Up Comedy (3:50)
- Fez – Being Born (5:17)
- White as Snow (4:41)
- Breathe (5:00)
- Cedars of Lebanon (4:13)
I said in my last album review on How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb that I hoped U2′s forthcoming album would sound nothing like that album. Well I guess my hope came true, although I would never have thought that I would ever hear Bono rap. This is not to say I particularly liked No Line on the Horizon at all the first few times I heard it. This album has been slowly growing on me since its release in early 2009, which is normally a sign of a good album. To me, No Line on the Horizon is U2′s desperate attempt to reborn (Or in Bono’s words, reboot) themselves and break out of the mold that they deliberately created for themselves by making two very similar-sounding and conservative albums in All that you Can’t Leave Behind and How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb.
The album kicks off with the title track, ‘No Line on the Horizon’ which is an energetic rocker with clever lyrics and tries to be a bit different. The next song ‘Magnificent’ is simply that. It is by far my favourite song off The Unforgettable Fire, I mean No Line on the Horizon. The next two songs, ‘Moment of Surrender’ and ‘Unknown Caller’ are both beautiful, eloquent songs. ‘Unknown Caller’, in particular is a great U2 song. My only problem with both of these songs is that they could both easily be 2 minutes shorter.
One the Album’s other highlights, ‘Get on your boots’ was No Line on the Horizon’s first single. It is a fun silly song much like ‘Vertigo’ was with Atomic Bomb (Although admittedly, ‘Vertigo’ is a much superior song). We have heard Edge’s dirty guitar playing many times before so this isn’t breaking any new ground, but its still a fun song. The epic ‘Fez: Being Born’ is unlike any U2 song you’ve ever heard. I can’t really say exactly what it’s about but I would describe it as a journey into enlightenment.
Like ‘Fez’, ‘Breathe’ is also a song that I would say broke new ground. Bono pseudo-raps some stand up social commentary in ‘Breathe’. Like a few other song on No Line on the Horizon, Bono actually has something important to sing about. This is one of the songs that I hated upon first hearing but has since become one of my personal favourites on the album. I don’t think I’ve heard a U2 song like it, both lyrically and vocally.
Positives aside, there are some noticeable flat spots on this album. ‘Cedars of Lebanon’ and ‘Stand up Comedy’ aren’t particularly interesting songs and feel dragged out (And they are actually two of the shorter songs on the album) without saying much. While ‘I’ll Go Crazy If I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight’ and ‘White as Snow’ are nice songs but they certainly aren’t breaking any new ground.
All in all No Line on the Horizon has some great songs that are original, creative and take a fresh approach to how a U2 song should ‘sound’. U2 went out looking to be bold, creative and inspiring. To an extent I think they achieved this with No Line on the Horizon. However the album at times feels a bit patchy and overlong and does contain a few weak tracks. Though in saying that, No Line on the Horizon is still a very good album. But is it a great one?
When considering this album among U2′s great albums, I have a few problems in placing it in that echelon. Firstly, No Line on the Horizon’s sound is not groundbreaking or distinguishable when you consider how individually unique Achtung Baby, Unforgettable Fire and Zooropa sounded. Sound and style-wise, No Line on the Horizon is all over the place. I mean, ‘Get on Your Boots’ and ‘Magnificent’ look like they are songs that have been plucked from the Achtung Baby and Unforgettable Fire eras respectively.
Secondly, Im not really sure No Line on the Horizon has anything important to say, although it tries to. I think both Zooropa and Pop do a better job in its use of dark humour, satire and playfulness in commenting on society at that time. Im not at all saying Pop is a great U2 album, but it certainly got its message across, something the overtly serious No Line on the Horizon doesn’t do so well. No Line on the Horizon does sound at times a bit forced, which may be an indication of the pressure the band were under to make something creative and original, which is no easy task for a band like U2. 8/10
How would you rate U2′s No Line on the Horizon album? Rate and leave a comment below.