by Paul Cashmere - February 11 2009
Undercover was privy to a private listening session for the U2 album today and it is damn good. Although it is not “the next big step for U2”, it is very much the sound of U2 you love.
That is thanks mostly to the joint production resource of Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois and additional production by Steve Lillywhite. All three had similar duties on 1984’s ‘The Unforgettable Fire’ and the sound I am hearing from ‘No Line On The Horizon’ is very much sourced from that work.
The album will conjure up the past when you hear it, mainly because the production team individually have worked on many of the U2 albums since ‘The Unforgettable Fire’ and they each bring their own sound to U2.
While I’ve only had one listen to the album from beginning to end, my first impression is that this album won’t rock the boat with U2 fans. If you loved the old stuff, you will like the new.
Track by track:
No Line On The Horizon – This one is techno, thump. In sound it sits somewhere between 1993’s ‘Zooropa’ and 1994’s ‘Pop’.
Magnificent – And The Edge show up for work! This is one of the few songs on the album that sounds like any of their recent work. This one wouldn’t be out of place on 2000’s ‘All That You Can’t Leave Behind’.
Moment Of Surrender –This is the album’s epic. It is one of those slow, building tracks and fits with ‘The Unforgettable Fire’ in sound.
Unknown Caller – Another slow one, I was thinking ‘The Joshua Tree’ as a first impression. While ‘The Joshua Tree’ came initially to mind, there is something strangely “Broadway show” about this in parts.
I’ll Go Crazy If I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight – damn, Bono beat some old country guy to the title. It sounds like it should be a country and western song but isn’t. In fact, it is one of the rockier songs on the album. Think, ‘Rattle and Hum’ album for a fit.
Get Your Boots On – Well, you already know this one. 60’s meets the Escape Club. (Go on, admit it, you thought of ‘Wild Wild West’ when you heard it the first time as well).
Stand Up Comedy – Funky. It would sound good on ‘Rattle and Hum’.
FEZ – Being Born – This is the most different song on the album from anything else they have done. In fact, the production technique is more in line of some of the experimentations George Martin did on later Beatles. It starts out atmospheric (Eno) but gets a bit of grunt happening.
White As Snow – Another slow one. ‘The Unforgettable Fire’ for fit. There are some nice Irish influences in the song structure as well. I can’t say Irish trad music has been very prevelant in the U2 sound before like it is here.
Breathe – An uptempo, rock song. A good one for ‘Achtung Baby’.
Cedars Of Lebanon – Bono really sings on this ballad. Its dreamy and laidback, a mellow end to the album. It is again very ‘The Unforgettable Fire’ in sound.
‘No Line On The Horizon’ was recorded at U2 HQ Dublin, Raid El Yacout in Fez, Platinum Sound Recordings Studios in New York and Olympic Studios in London.
It will be released at the end of this month.