St. Nick (aka Jeff) was good to me this year -- I got U2's new album, How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb this year. After listening to it nonstop in the car, I now feel fully qualified to give a review.
Unlike some of the more orgasmic reviews that have occurred -- "This is grandiose music from grandiose men, sweatlessly confident in the execution of their duties," from Rolling Stone -- this review won't be an scream of ecstasy echoing off of the walls. HTDAAB is a great album in a year of crap, but typical of U2, there's some oddball missteps.
First off, the line, "Freedom smells like the top of a newborn baby's head," from Miracle Drug is a bit much for me. I love ya Bono, but for me, freedom smells icy and cold after a snowy day. But I also haven't snorted many newborn babies heads, so I can't be an expert in that department.
Yahweh is also a weak song for me. It's a bit over-the-top with the joy and stuff. Much like the end of the musical that was the centerpiece for Moulin Rouge, it's something that's an upper that's supposed to send listeners off gleefully dancing out of their seats. It just is a bit much.
But there's a ton of good stuff on here. Sometimes You Can't Make it on Your Own is simply heartbreaking as the song builds up to the explosion from Bono's words of "You're the reason why I sing," Edge's guitar opens up from the subdued sound earlier and the song just flies for me.
I won't discuss Vertigo, which is good and I'm not sick of it yet. A Man and a Woman is without a doubt in my mind, one of the sexiest U2 songs to date. And that's saying a lot. Maybe it's because it harkens back to Achtung Baby with Adam Clayton's fat-bottomed bass taking the lead. It's just awesome.
Crumbs from Your Table is another gem as the band takes the idea of a pleading/kiss-off song and turns it into something about politics. If you hear it and read the lyrics, it's not hard to envision that the careless, selfish person in the song is actually America.
All in all, I like this album a lot. Except for a few missteps where the earnestness goes over the top and makes one go, "yeah, right," it's a good solid album. I'd recommend it to any U2 fan.