U2's 'Bomb' fails to explode



Scott Schrade schrade at akrobiz.com
Thu Dec 2 17:28:59 CST 2004


Repost from O&S:

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http://www.cnn.com/2004/SHOWBIZ/Music/11/30/review.u2/index.html

Review: U2's 'Bomb' fails to explode
Band's new album hits some heights but often falls flat

By Todd Leopold
CNN

Tuesday, November 30, 2004 Posted: 2:44 PM EST (1944 GMT)
(CNN) -- U2 tends to remind me of middle-period Who: two bands whose 
pretensions are usually undercut -- beneficially -- by punkish roots 
and crack musicianship.
The Who managed to avoid the ponderous pitfalls of Pete Townshend's big 
concepts by simply playing the hell out of "Tommy," "Who's Next" and 
"Quadrophenia."

Similarly, U2 has never shied from trying to sound like the world's 
most important band, but thanks to the group's chops, humor and 
self-knowledge, even a song such as "I Still Haven't Found What I'm 
Looking For" -- or a lyric as determinedly poetic as "Have you come to 
play Jesus/To the lepers in your head" -- avoid artistic affectation.

Usually.

On the band's new album, "How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb," U2 is 
again aiming high. "Love and Peace or Else" evokes the Middle East to 
talk about relationships, big and small; "Yahweh" uses a name for God in 
a song about pain, love and the cleansing of the soul.

What's missing, too often, is melody -- and without melody, the lyrics 
call too much attention to themselves. After all, in the best U2 songs, 
such as "Pride (In the Name of Love)" and "One," the music is as 
lyrical as the words. Not even all Bono's emoting -- sometimes 
growling, sometimes belting -- can overcome having nothing to sing.

So "Miracle Drug," a song about love, drags. "City of Blinding Lights" 
meanders. They're not bad songs, but they're not memorable either.

That's not to say the album doesn't have its moments. "All Because of 
You" and "A Man and a Woman" have the understated power the band 
generates like no other. They're sneaky songs, gaining depth with each 
listen.

And "Vertigo," the lead track, somehow combines nightclub darkness with 
brutal introspection ("the jungle is your head," "it's everything I 
wish I didn't know"), yet works as a great single, thanks to Edge's 
blazing guitar and the propulsive Larry Mullen-Adam Clayton rhythm 
section. It's "Mama Told Me Not to Come" with spikes.

"How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb" isn't a dud. There's too much tight 
playing, too many solid songs for that. But the album tends to hold 
back when it needs to let go. Because of that, this "Bomb" doesn't 
quite have the explosiveness of the band's best work.
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