U2's 'Bomb' fails to explode
schrade at akrobiz.com
Thu Dec 2 17:28:59 CST 2004
Repost from O&S:
Review: U2's 'Bomb' fails to explode
Band's new album hits some heights but often falls flat
By Todd Leopold
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
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.
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
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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