Thursday, November 19, 2009

In defense of No Line on the Horizon

I'll be the first to admit it -- unlike a lot of U2 fans, who squee at everything that the band does, it took me awhile to warm up to their latest album, No Line on the Horizon. But normally, I come from the "HATED IT!" school of thinking and then warm up to something. Rarely do I love something from the outset, and when I do, I LOVE IT.

But I'll admit, I was disappointed to hear that No Line On the Horizon hasn't been selling well. And really, I think that it deserves a chance. It's more challenging than their previous two albums and the anthem songs are few, but I really think that this album prevented U2 from heading into Rolling Stones territory of sound the same all the damn time.

I talked to a U2 fan once who admitted she heard the album once and didn't like it. I told her the same thing I'll tell everyone here -- you have to give it chance. You have to listen to it repeatedly to peel back the layers. This isn't the simple first-person anthems that we all know and love. In No Line on The Horizon, several of the songs are from a character perspective -- a traffic cop, a junkie and a soldier stationed in a war zone -- and it's important to understand that.

And really, that's one of the wonderful things about this album. It's unexpected and it also highlights on of U2's strengths really -- when they're on fire, they can write some interesting songs. Breathe is a marvel for combining Dylanesque lyrics with the U2 anthem chorus. Cedars of Lebanon paints the picture of a war correspondent missing home and the images he sees in a foreign area.

I really believe that this album is amazing -- even more amazing than their previous two, which appeared to me that they were getting their bearings after getting slammed by Pop. It doesn't hit you right away like most singles -- it creeps into your mind and you absorb the songs and realize how much you like them and how good they are.

Edge said it best in an interview with the Guardian:

"There's a lot of records that make great first impressions. There might be one song that gets to be big on the radio, but they're not albums that people ... play a lot. This [isn't like] that, I gather from talking to people. Four months later, they're saying, 'I'm really getting into the album now.'"
And he's absolutely right. Give the album a listen. You don't have to listen to it constantly, but just listen to it. Give it a chance. It's a gem.

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