For most reviews, I like to give the album several listens in a few different contexts: in the car to and from work, at work, at home on the 'real' stereo, maybe even via headphones at my home writing desk. Music is a huge part of my life and the material works its way under my skin. Slowly.
Given all of the whoorah about the new U2 record, I thought it'd be kinda fun to just type in my impressions as the first listen goes by. I picked up my copy of How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb while at lunch (tuna on a sesame bagel, small cup of broccoli soup), so I'm ready to go.
You've heard it, I've heard it (oooh, that danged iPod ad) and now I've heard the whole thing. Unos, dos, tres, catorce!...You say that this band is washed up? Riiight. This song kicks it and would have fit in easily beside tunes on The Joshua Tree or Achtung Baby. I don't care if they've 'sold out', this is a great fricken' song. Love the snarling guitar at the end.
It starts out very plaintively, with trademark chimey guitar notes in the background. Verses build up the tension slowly before the whole thing becomes anthemic. Very powerful. The slide guitar break is very effective as it holds back, disguising the EdgeExposion(®) to come.
Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own
The Boston Globe's Steve Morse thinks that some of Bono's best work here is in response to the death of his father. He might be right. Constructed somewhat like "One", this song bubbles over with emotion:
- I know that we don't talk
I'm sick of it all
Can - you - hear - me - when - I
Sing, you're the reason I sing
You're the reason why the opera is in me
Love And Peace Or Else
Ominous synthesizers frame a swaggering tune that contains the kind of peace, love & war sentiments that drive some folks batty. Hey, what would a U2 record be without one of these things? Oh, and all of those bell-like guitar notes during the bridge...so choice.
City Of Blinding Light
Beginning with stuttering guitar (a la "I Will Follow"), this one has the U2 of old feel. I don't know what Bono's talking about, but I want to sing along.
All Because Of You
It's a tribute to a loved one, a parent, God. Dunno. Weirdly, if you remove the chimey guitar bits, you can imagine the Stones playing this song.
A Man And A Woman
Strummed acoustic guitars form the rhythmic bed for a heartfelt take on what it means to be in love, and what it means to value that love above all other things.
Crumbs From Your Table
Partially distorted guitar arpeggios and glockenspiel (I've gotta look up that word every damned time I use it). Wow...replace the chiming guitar solo with a few bent notes and you might have the E Street Band.
One Step Closer
"One step closer to knowing"....apparently, about the end. With it's spooky and swirling atmosphere, this song is just bound to be a huge hit at the live shows. It's again just dripping with emotion and builds and builds and builds...
Original Of The Species
Another anthem from the days of yore. Cripes, what took these guys so long to return to this particular form? I guess if you toss out all of the attempts at sounding "modern", this is what you get (though the last record really was a step in that direction).
U2 closes out the program with a fine example of what a 'spiritual' song can be. Too subtle for contemporary christian crowd? I'll have to ask the wife.
This albums rates right up there with The Joshua Tree or The Unforgettable Fire.
Washed up? No way.
(First posted on Mark Is Cranky)