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      U2 expands Horizon with experimental album

      Hunter Sokol

      Issue date: 3/6/09 Section: Focus
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      In their long and storied career, U2 has released quite a few albums. In No Line on the Horizon, their first release in five years, the band takes chances and experiments with new sounds, to varied degrees of success.
      Media Credit: Courtesy
      In their long and storied career, U2 has released quite a few albums. In No Line on the Horizon, their first release in five years, the band takes chances and experiments with new sounds, to varied degrees of success.

      It has been five years since U2's last album, How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb, which makes the gap between that album and their latest effort, No Line on the Horizon, the longest gap between albums in the band's career. After commercial success with both Atomic Bomb and All That You Can't Leave Behind, U2 has chosen to go in a different direction. The band's last attempt at something similar was the 1997 commercial failure Pop, but the change might prove to be a smart one down the line. Admittedly, U2's last albums offered few surprises, along with strong singles; the question of how the long-seasoned veterans could keep it up when compared to their younger facsimiles arose. However, it seems U2 themselves felt the need for change from the globally aware, arena-rocking position they've played for so long.

      The opener "No Line on the Horizon," is bombastic as ever, with the ubiquitous U2 guitar sound that has saturated Top 40 airwaves from a vast number of bands that steal shamelessly from U2's playbook. One might be dismayed to not hear something a little more interesting, but it remains a solid track. However, a factor that Horizon seems to fail in is desperately falling back into the typical U2 sound despite attempts at Brian Eno-infused intros. Lead single "Get On Your Boots" and other tracks like "Stand up Comedy" are straight-forward rock tracks that don't really benefit from Bono's clunky lyrics. "I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight" showcases this attempt well - Bono sings light-hearted lyrics but still sings with the authority one would hear on the deeper takes from U2's oeuvre like "One" or "Sunday, Bloody Sunday."

      However, the album does succeed in parts where U2 manages to escape their niche. The seven-minute "Moment of Surrender" gives hope early in the album featuring the typical Eno ambience and a strong solo by The Edge. Unfortunately, the next track, "Unknown Caller," which clocks in at six minutes fails to be as engaging with multiple lyrical fumbles from Bono.
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