I've spent most of today waiting for work to end so I go hit the record store and grab a copy of the new U2 album How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb. No thoughts yet, as I've not had a chance to listen all the way through, but I've been review hopping all day so here's a few of the better ones.
Delme Herbert sent me a review which I will probably use in the Phoenix, to save myself work and carry the word of D to the peoples, with the sort of venom that one usually reserves for their parents' murders (if you're Batman) or Big Ethel (if you're Jughead). He lambasts it as not just a step backwards, but a step sideways, failing to progress at all.
The latter-day U2 is now longer about a progression or vision, it's about regurgitation. How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb doesn't carry any spirit or energy -- it carries the awful stench of leftovers.
Meanwhile Rolling Stone swings all the way over to the other side of the playing surface, with a review that praises the album as one of their best yet.
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.
Of course Rolling Stone, like Spin, thought Pop was the Second Coming until it didn't sell as well as expected and then they quickly turned on it (cleverly referring to it as Flop) as self-indulgent, too European and blah blah blah.
Aside from Delme's the best review I've found so far is from a blog called Friday Night Running. It's by someone who like Delme and myself is obviously a U2 fan and knows quite a bit about the group. It's a song by song review, and it's quite good.
"One Step Closer"
Another wow! This has been mentioned in some reviews as a low point, but I think it's stunning. It's a very low-key song, minimal in style, but the atmosphere it creates both in word and music is really something. I love the slide guitar. Bono's vocal delivery is a bit off his beaten path and I love it. Definitely a favorite, and it will probably be the "Running to Stand Still" or "The First Time" from this album -- the hidden gem, the underrated fan favorite, you get the idea.
So what do I think? I've just got it, and I need time. Check back, and hopefully I'll be able to let you know. Will I agree with Delme, or will this be the second U2 album in a row we've come down on different sides of the debate?