U2 - No Line On The Horizon
The impact of Brian Eno's songwriting and production contribution here is palpable, with the ambient minimalism he's famous for often giving a most familiar band a strangely atypical sound, particularly during the glorious extended intro of Fez - Being Born. It's only a shame that these influences are never given free reign, but smothered by U2's unyielding loyalty to stadium rock. On the many tracks driven by keyboards and synths rather than guitars, it too often seems that crisp, clean guitar solos are laid down on top merely to give The Edge something to do, while Bono's vocals can be overbearing when added into these surrounds.
That said, this conflict of styles is sidestepped when they aim for funkier guitar based rock. The monotone style verse and quirky percussion of single Get On Your Boots are knowingly contemporary while the 70s style rock riff of Stand Up Comedy is surely one for air-guitarists the world over. The highlight though is undoubtedly Moment of Surrender, which feels a mere fraction of its 7mins23. Layering drums, synths and seeping strings with organ and gospel choir, the sound reflects the song's religious reference to the stations of the cross and its plea for "vision over visibility." Though Bono's sanctimonious presence in these kinds of lines can often grate, the subtlety of closer Cedars of the Lebanon (despite the nauseating lack of subtlety of its title) manages to convince you of the sincerity of its sentiment.
Whether accomplished with ambient electronics, solid drums, layered vocals or scuzzy guitars, you can't fault U2's ability to create an epic sound that can thoroughly fill a room. Let's just say, they're not coming down off their rock throne any time soon.
Review by Jenny Mulligan | 09:00 | Friday 27th February 2009 | Album Review