Nov
17
2004

'Refusal To Be Reasonable'

Which explains U2's 'brilliance', according to a glowing review of the new album in Rolling Stone.

'Halfway through the excellent new U2 album, Bono announces, "I like the sound of my own voice." Well-said, lad; well-said.' writes Rolling Stone reviewer Rob Sheffield. 'Ever since U2 started making noise in Dublin several hundred bloody Sundays ago, Bono has grooved to the sound of his own gargantuan rockness. Ego, shmego -- this is one rock-star madman who should never scale down his epic ambitions. As the old Zen proverb goes, you will find no reasonable men on the tops of great mountains, and U2's brilliance is their refusal to be reasonable. U2 were a drag in the 1990s, when they were trying to be cool, ironic hipsters. Feh! Nobody wants a skinny Santa, and for damn sure nobody wants a hipster Bono. We want him over the top, playing with unforgettable fire. We want him to sing in Latin or feed the world or play Jesus to the lepers in his head. We want him to be Bono. Nobody else is even remotely qualified.

U2 bring that old-school, wide-awake fervor to How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb. The last time we heard from them, All That You Can't Leave Behind, U2 were auditioning for the job of the World's Biggest Rock & Roll Band. They trimmed the Euro-techno pomp, sped up the tempos and let the Edge define the songs with his revitalized guitar. Well, they got the job.

On Atomic Bomb, they're not auditioning anymore. This is grandiose music from grandiose men, sweatlessly confident in the execution of their duties. Hardly any of the eleven songs break the five-minute mark or stray from the punchy formula of All That You Can't Leave Behind. They've gotten over their midcareer anxiety about whether they're cool enough. Now, they just hand it to the Edge and let it rip.

During the course of Atomic Bomb, you will be urged to ponder death("Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own"), birth ("Original of the Species"), God ("Yahweh"), love ("A Man and a Woman"), war ("Love and Peace or Else") and peace ("City of Blinding Lights"), which barely gives you time to ponder whether the bassist has been listening to Interpol. "Vertigo" sets the pace, a thirty-second ad jingle blown up to three great minutes, with a riff nicked from Sonic Youth's "Dirty Boots." "City of Blinding Lights" begins with a long Edge guitar intro, building into a bittersweet lament. "Yahweh" continues a U2 tradition, the album-closing chitchat with the Lord. It's too long and too slow, but that's part of the tradition.....'

Read the rest of the Rolling Stone review of 'How to Dismantle An Atomic Bomb' here
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