Released on Saturday Feb 27th 2009 in Ireland, and in the rest of the world two days later, No Line On The Horizon, was the band's 12th studio album and their first since How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb, in 2004.
Recording began in 2007 in Fez, Morocco, where longtime producers Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois joined U2 as songwriting partners. Work continued in the band's own studio in Dublin, moved to New York's Platinum Sound Recording Studios before work was completed in December 2008 at Olympic Studios in London where Steve Lillywhite contributed additional production.
The album debuted at No. 1 in 30 countries with 5million copies sold by June 2009. The striking cover art features a photograph of Lake Constance by Japanese photographer Hiroshi Sugimoto - an image which inspired the writing of the title song. Special editions of the album also included Linear, a film directed by Anton Corbijn based on a story developed with Bono about a Parisian motorcycle officer. Corbijn described as ' a new way to listen to a record... and to connect to music.'
No Line On The Horizon was the band's 10th No.1 album in the UK and seventh in the US. Some critics loved it, some were less convinced. For David Fricke of Rolling Stone it was U2's best album since Achtung Baby in 1991 while Entertainment Weekly concluded that it 'speaks to the zeitgeist the way only U2 can and dare to do'. Andrew Mueller in Uncut said it was their 'least immediate album' but might become 'one of their most enduring.' Time, by contrast, called it 'unsatisfied'.
The album was nominated for Best Rock Album at the 2010 Grammy Awards, while 'I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight' was nominated for two other Grammy's. Rolling Stone made No Line on the Horizon best album of the year and 'Moment of Surrender' song of the year.
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Get On Your Boots video
'We'd invited Eno and Lanois to come in as writers. It was a big step up for us to say, 'We wanna open the thing up and that will determine the direction.' From the first session Larry was performing on an electronic drum kit. Normally Larry drums so hard, it's very hard to spend hours working stuff up when you've got all this bang and clatter. But the electronic kit made him play in a certain way. So the music came from a different place.'
'Initially, the idea was to do this esoteric thing and have a few hits there as well. It's kind of morphed into something else. I think there is experimentation in there... it's just a different animal. It's not quite what people would expect a U2 experimental thing would be. I mean, if you think of Zooropa, or Passengers, this is not that. This has got a lot of weight... I think it's some of the best music we've ever written.'
Larry on recording in Morocco
'I want people to listen to it as opposed to just buying it. I want this to be an album people go back to, and really get into, in-depth. Like all the records I love... I think we've learnt a few things over the years... I think it could be a bringing to bear of all those eureka moments from the past. And I think it could be our best album.'
'...I allowed myself to wear the clothes of characters that wandered into my imagination. So the guy in (new song) 'Cedars of Lebanon' is a war correspondent. I meet a lot of them in my other life. And I have a lot of empathy because I'd probably be one (laughs). And then there's this song that is called 'Tripoli' at the moment, which is this guy on a motorcycle, a Moroccan French cop, who's going awol. He drives through France and Spain down to this village outside of Cadiz where you can actually see the fires of Africa burning...'
Bono On Writing in the Third Person