Recently we explored No Line On The Horizon - today we take a look at it's predecessor and expand on the U2 of the 2000's.
"How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb" is far less cluttered than No Line - truly, it sounds more like an album - more organic - and this is a good thing. Sadly, it suffers from a bloated, uninteresting second half that almost wrecks the whole album.
It comes crashing out of the gates with the propulsive "Vertigo" - a song with lyrics that make the head spin, but a catchy, effervescent joyousness about it that makes you not care. "Miracle Drug" dials up the introspection a bit, but still keeps with the return-to-form style they began the 2000's with. From there, the album goes right into what may well be the best song they've put out in the 2000's - and a close runner up for best song from any album they've released since Achtung Baby. "Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own" may have a clunky title - but it is poignant, hopeful, and full of all the right touches - yearning lyrics, the edge's ringing guitars mixing perfectly with Bono's voice - really, with a song this wonderful (and the swaggering "Love and Peace or Else" right after) you'd think the whole album would be so good. Not so, unfortunately.
The album doesn't start to unravel just yet though - "City of Blinding Lights" is another classic chimer that shows off the edge's fine work and great vocals - and it makes a tidy backdrop for a scene midway through "The Devil Wears Prada" to boot - but random movie references aside, here is where it all starts to sound tired.
The reinvention works when it shows off their strengths and looks forward all at once. But when this approach it fails, it certainly fails hard. From the muted clutter of "A Man And A Woman" to "Yahweh" - a song that seems to want to mash together religious imagery with the polyester-trash-talking of 1997's "Pop" (a mix that barely works, if you can say it works at all) - the last half just leaves you wondering "what the hell happened?"). Or there's the overly bitter-sounding "Crumbs from your table" which mood-wise doesn't really jive with the rest of the disc all that well - sure it's musically pleasant, but the aforementioned mood just clashes so obviously with the songs surrounding it.
This disc kept on with the good revival ideas of All that you can't leave behind - so half worth it, half not - surely better than No line on the horizon, so a "just ok" U2 release.