There are bands that reach a mythical threshold of no longer needing to be named. You hear one guitar lick, one chorus, or even the distant tones of a song redone with a clarinet as elevator music, and you know immediately who they are. U2 is such a band, which makes reviewing this anniversary vinyl reissue of No Line on the Horizon a bit of a twist because you can already imagine what it sounds like before I begin – even if you happened to have missed listening to it before.
For those already familiar with the album, feel free to jump down to where I talk about the actual vinyl itself. Don’t worry, I won’t be offended.
From the opening notes the album unfolds like an empty highway of freshly paved blacktop. No distractions, no obstacles. It’s free rein for anyone and anything to travel as fast and loud as they want. U2 ignites track after track with the charging momentum of a classic muscle car, one with a big enough hood for the entire band to stand on, belting their music into the wind.
“No Line on the Horizon,” “Get On Your Boots,” and “Fez/Being Born” are grinding tracks, pushing listeners harder and farther than they were likely ready for. They follow a solid pattern that inspires and lifts, even if the album may also just toss you forward after the oh-so-gentle lift.
“Magnificent” growls at the edge of sight, like meeting a neighbor’s new dog and not knowing whether it will bite you or lick your face. Yet in case you’re worried about too much musical momentum without a break, there are plenty of tracks to calm those rattled nerves.
“Moment of Surrender” is a floating, dreamy track that would be comfortable on a jukebox in Twin Peaks. “Cedars of Lebanon” is quiet, haunting, and gives a vibe of a smoke-filled dive bar.
Now that we’ve gone over the music, let’s talk about the package itself. The 180g double LP comes in two variations, black vinyl and ultra-clear vinyl. It has a beautiful heavyweight outer cover and plastic sleeve to keep everything in pristine condition (a bonus for those whose kids love to grab things off your office desk). Of course, since we sadly don’t have record players in our cars, it also comes with a digital download card so you can listen to these open-road tunes actually out on the open road.
No Line on the Horizon was not one of the U2 albums I was previously even aware of before this review, but I can honestly say it’s now on rotation in my home office.