Canonize em already!
No, not those four irrelevant baldies from your homeland. They get enough appreciation at the local scenester hang, not to mention all of Bambaataas jams. Im talking about the fellas from Dublin, the boys from the good ol neighbourhood, the worlds favourite adopted heroes. Im talking about U2. Yes, the same U2 who single-handedly brought all of humankind together, albeit for just a moment, when they released One. Yep, the same ones who revolutionized live shows and the same guys who embody all that is philanthropic in the world of rockstars- cum-saviors.
I know what youre thinking Pope, and the answer is No — they do not have three documented miracles in their name, but who needs that shit anyway? In this day and age of super sweet sixteens and celebutards, isnt it enough for them to be a wholesome band who, at the same time, are talented out the ass? And if not, wouldnt you agree that the scale to which Bono has selfaggrandized is at least enough to merit a stained-glass window or two?
Youre a quiet guy Benny, but surely you must have noticed all the Oprah appearances. No?What about Live Aid? I know you were around way back when. On the wrong side of the curtain were you? Okay, but you must have heard watercooler talk of the Letterman performances this past week. Ah yes, Bono and the boyz strutted some new stuff thats for sure. But is it any good? Does it make Joshua Tree-era Bono quake in his leather slacks? Let me explain…
On the one hand, their newest album o Line on the Horizon has all the makings of a strong, non-mid-to-late- 90s U2 record with its texturized patterns and its inherent Edge-eyness. Add a little North African twist and a few disco synths (which, in case youve been busy castigating cardinals for some reason, are all the rage right now) and youve got yourself some of your very own U2 circa oh nine.
On the other hand, Bono is in poor shape with his words. Sure, this time hes playing around with different characters in his songs, but we all know thats hogwash. It really just means that hes run out of clever metaphors and this is his way of pretending his poetry actually has a purpose to it.
Its a bit depressing considering this is the man who penned the entirety of The Unforgettable Fire and who, back in the day, was considered a great innovative lyricist. Remember when they released October? Those words were mostly improvised. Who saw that coming? You must have been impressed though, with all that religious imagery n shit.
But hey, lets not digress. Remember were talking about Bono here. He invented the (RED) campaign. He came up with the idea to put struggling African families to work in Gap t-shirt factories. If that aint saintly, I dont know what is anymore.
Surprisingly, I found very little of that theme on o Line. Not to say thats a bad thing, but I was expecting some We Are the World brought-into-thefuture type outpour.
Instead, what we have here are some average U2 tunes. Magnificent, Breathe, and No Line on the Horizon are clearly the albums standouts, but the rest of the tracks fail to remain in memory. Their only single thus far, Get On Your Boots, is really not so grand, especially after about a million airplays.
Stand Up Comedy and White as Snow arent remarkable either, nor do they contribute in any way to the rest of the album. Other songs, take Cedars of Lebanon for example, have at least some sort of emotional impact, save the drudgery of a few Bono verses.
Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen Jr. are strong as always, but The Edges brilliance comes and goes from song to song. The guitar work in Breathe is masterful with its transitions — from trademark chiming and shimmering delays to hard, overdriven riffs. Magnificent showcases The Edges synth work which brims with expanding keyboard lines and the instantly satisfying sounds of the Rhodes piano.
But when we get to songs like Stand Up Comedy and Put On Your Boots, we hardly notice anything special. Now we dont need the Joshua Tree dynamic on every song here, but these tracks probably wouldnt have made the cut on any other U2 album.
The bottom line, Pope, is this: these guys are getting to the end of the line. Not to say theyre shit — because with production work from Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois thats quite impossible — but that in trying to stay relevant and youthful, theyre losing that cool edge they once had over all the oldies. The album is alright, nothing special, but you can tell that they arent pushing the envelope like they used to. How To Dismantle an Atomic Bomb was huge because they opened themselves up emotionally and to a new generation of fans. People feel that. Fuck, people who have been listening to U2 their entire life felt that.
But this is nothing like that. In all fairness, that doesnt make them any less great or influential than they were already. Their concerts seem to get bigger and better every tour, as do their political and humanitarian efforts. For that they get my vote for induction into sainthood. And I hope youve seen the light, because if not, you might just be too late. Fondly, Michael Di Leo