They seemed to have lost the urgency and distinction that made them a genre unto themselves - something few bands become.
Though How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb puts them back on their pedestal, they've tried nothing new. Instead they've done something fans might prefer - condensed the best of their experiments.
It's the album that everyone who's ever criticised them deserves. If you've ever said "I love Boy, but it's a bit rough", or "Unforgettable Fire is self indulgent" or "bits of Pop are great but I really hate this or that song", or "Joshua Tree would be the best if it weren't for the wooo wooo refrains throughout", then How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb was put together just for you.
Bono's unmistakeable vocals are pushed to beautiful limits. His grainy call is broader, more passionate and more rhythmically responsive than before. Nobody plays guitar with the fluid build of The Edge, or makes percussive explosions like Larry Mullen. Electronic effects give textural continuity, decoration and bulk. The more personal theme of Bono's father's death makes for some beautiful lyrics. You'll have to forgive the odd bit of embarrassing purple prose. But all in all?
U2 have made the perfect stadium rock album. If you close your eyes and just give in, you can see the bouncing masses punching the air to Larry's percussive fireworks and Bono's leather clad poses. You can picture the sea of cigarette lighters slowly waving in the dark, the sweeping lights, and the girls on their boyfriends' shoulders screaming "Bono! Bono!"
It's high impact, grandiose, emotional and occasionally brilliant. U2 are doing what they do best, only better.- Jean BarkerWHAT OTHER CRITICS SAID
... much too conservative and calculated to be truly revolutionary and an undeniable classic, but also just too good to write off completely- Mike London on Amazon
... what makes U2 so big isn't really their clever ideas, or even their intelligence -- it's the warmth that all too few rock stars have any idea how to turn into music.- Rob Sheffield for Rolling Stone
... you've got punk rock starting points that go through Phil Spectorland, turn right at Tim Buckley, end up in alleyways and open onto other vistas and cityscapes and rooftops and skies. It's songwriting by accident, by a punk band that wants to play Bach.- U2's Bono in a USA Today interview* note: The SA edition of this album doesn't include the track Fast Car. For this you have get the UK import.
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