Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Some Lines on No Line on the Horizon

Sasha Frere-Jones reviews U2's No Line on the Horizon in this week's New Yorker.

He starts by recalling a 2005 concert experience:
[T]he moment the band began to play “City of Blinding Lights,” from “How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb[,]” [t]he crowd went berserk.... The audience was going perceptibly more berserk for this particular song. I realized that I was hearing, for the third or fourth time, the evening’s loudest applause for a recent single. ... What other band, three decades into the game, gets its most intense audience reaction with new songs?

I think he overstates the case here a little bit, but I also think that he is spot-on about U2 fans digging into new material and developing new favorites.

His analysis of the new disc is also quite accurate. Overall, he describes it as "wobbly," refers to "Get on Your Boots" as "a sort of adorable blunder," and argues that "[m]any of the missteps on 'No Line' can be attributed to odd choices of lyrics." I think this is all quite true.

He also hits the nail on the head when talking about All That You Can't Leave Behind, saying it "felt like a greatest-hits album before the fact."

His final assessment of No Line on the Horizon?
This album is a long dinner with old friends, all of whom love each other, most of whom are born talkers, and some of whom hold the floor for too long. Not every anecdote holds up, and some of the food belongs, untouched, on the edge of your plate. But it would be small-minded to leave before the whole warm, rambling night is over.


(Update: At Ben's urging, there has been some modification of gender pronouns in this post.)

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