Let's try this out... Just got U2's album in today here @ WSOU, and I'm going to liveblog my listening of U2's new album, "No Line on the Horizon" right now. An in-depth review to follow, but here's first impressions:
Track 1 - No Line on the Horizon - Great intro. It feels very ballsy for U2 in a counterintuitive kind of way. It's kind of retro. Bono's yelping in the verses, and I like it. "I know a girl..." starts out the verses in a very retroish way. Digging it.
Track 2 - Magnificent - Grungy start, Bass drum heavy. Some synth(?) syncopation. Very "late night on a big city street after the rain" feel. Like a danceable Taxi Driver. Once the intro gives way to the lyrics, it's not booming, but it's catchy. Does feel... old. These guys are aging, this album hasn't hidden that yet. But they're aging gracefully so far on this album.
Track 3 - Moment of Surrender - I liked this song a lot that I didn't even type much. I just kind of listened. The title lyrics pop out at you. It's engrossing.
Track 4 - Unknown Caller - Starts out like a rainstorm. Then, Bono's falsetto is iffy. The Edge backs it up with a beautiful riff or three that sounds like he made it up as he went (in a good way). Lyrics don't hit till about 1:50 in, which doesn't feel like it because you get lost in Edge's guitar. This sounds like something that could have been on All You Can't Leave Behind. The chorus is kind of flat. It's chanted, not sung. The title makes me think of "The Fly" (which is a call from a resident of Hell, according to the band), but this isn't Achtung Baby at all. It's more "Walk On" than anything. Not my favorite track so far, but I think it might be a third or fourth-single. Take close note at the Edge's guitar solo... this might have been what they meant when talking about this being "different" or "experimental". The Edge's solos are usually tight and short. Wow, I had lots to say in these 6 minutes... next track.
Track 5 - I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight - What an unfortunate title. Starts strong, Bono's falsetto bugs me a bit (it doesn't fit). Lyrics are substantial, sounds like Atomic Bomb, but not. What amazes me again and again about U2 is their ability to change their sound album after album - except for their first few albums, you can't say that one sounds like the next (Achtung Baby is NOT Joshua Tree is NOT Pop is NOT Atomic Bomb is NOT this.) At about 2:30, I hear some ugly synth I think. U2 rarely does well when they go outside of their standard instrumentation. Or wait, might those be real cellos?
Track 6 - Get On Your Boots - I think I'm listening to the Strokes after that intro. Wait. This is the single. The video underscores what I said from the first time I heard it: It's U2's attempt at making a theme song for a Bond film. Does anyone realize how little Bono actually sings in this song after the first 50 seconds? The rest is mostly chorus and breakdown... I think the best way to describe this is "Love it, Hate it". I happen to kind of like it. It's growing on me.
Track 7 - Stand Up Comedy - U2-tries-funk. A few seconds in I think he made a Twin Towers reference. If I'm right... Oh Bono. Anyways, It's got a groove to it. The falsetto here's not bad. One thing I am noticing... The songs don't necessarily sound the same, but they aren't incredibly varied. I think that's true of a lot of their albums. No album sounds the same as another, but what's on there is produced in such a way that the album is unified in a certain tone. (This is Eno coming through).
Track 8 - Fez (Being Born) - Echoes of "Get on Your Boots" are layered over a very smooth, slightly creepy intro. 1 minute in it gets crazy, then the song picks up in a way that I haven't seen since the long intro of "The Unforgettable Fire". Started out odd, but it's slowly becoming one of my favorite songs in this listen-through so far.
Track 9 - White As Snow - More of this electronic-techni-production that sounds like it could be a Radiohead B-side, but again, it gives way about a minute in to something different. A ballad. "All I Have Is You" or "One Step Closer" come to mind. It'll take a few more listens from the world, but this might become a U2 classic. Not like the rest of the album in arrangement. A little bluesy-folksy.
Track 10 - Breathe - Another bubbling, searing, seething intro. Sounds positively angry. It's almost like a hi-fi Black Keys intro. Now it's getting into a bluesy guitar jam. Bono ran out of notes, so he just reads the lyrics. Waiting for "Bad to the Bone" to come on... well it was just a joke, but anyways, that part gave way to a chorus. Beautiful actually. The Edge shines here. And the chords and arrangements are not what you'd expect.
Track 11 - Cedars of Lebanon - the big finish... or is it? Bono's sitting in a bar or coffee house somewhere, and he's missing something. It is rambling but kind of relaxing. Not sure how I feel. Wait for the final review.
That's it for now. You can stream it from their myspace if you want to play along. Comment with thoughts when you listen to it, or just comment on my own ramblings.