No Line on the Horizon Review

16 Mar

alirollestonGuest writer Alistair Rolleston with the first part of a double album review.

“‘If this isn’t our best album, we’re irrelevant’

Oh dear, dear Bono. In future let’s not be so hasty in making comments, shall we?

I think I need to apologise. Many are not going to like this review. Why? Because many people out there are U2 fans. This is a good thing. It shows that people in this world still have decent taste. It allows me to retain my shred of hope in humanity. Sometimes that’s no easy thing, let me tell you. So let me get this over with now, before I digress further.

This album is simply dire.


Album cover

It pains me to say that, it really does. I am a die hard U2 fan, I inherited that from my mother. U2 to date have released 14 studio albums, and in there, there are some gems. I am a U2 fan in every sense of the word. I have their albums, I have their posters (literally) stuck on my wall. In my humble opinion they are the greatest rock band the world has ever seen. I’m a wee bit ashamed to think they created this album.

Some of the tracks are catchy. The driven guitar of “Get on your boots” and “stand up comedy” certainly grab attention, but Bono’s lyrics fail to hold it. Bono is perhaps at his strongest lyrically on “White as Snow”, which is good because there’s precious little else in the track to divert your attention from the words (not that that’s a bad thing).

The album does pick up in places and there are some stand-out tracks. “Moment of Surrender” and “Magnificent” are perhaps the two strongest tracks on the album, with the former being about as close to a slow ballad as I feel the album gets, the latter being the a love song of sorts. Unfortunately Brian Eno saw fit to place these two tracks together on the album, so this moment of mild genius is short lived, and is rather unfortunately followed by “Unknown Caller”, a song in which the chorus requires the vocal range of a teaspoon and just sounds like a chant. It began to irritate me on the first listen through, which is never a good sign.

If you asked me to simply review this album without knowing who had created it, I may have said it was a half decent effort. By U2 shouldn’t be producing half decent albums. They’re one of a few bands in a world who have to produce consistent greatness, and that I feel is a great burden on their shoulders.

I sincerely hope this is not U2’s last album, it would be an abysmal way for them to bow out of music. For those of you out there who do not know much about U2, I offer this piece of advice. If you take the trip to your local music store, and are looking at the latest U2 album, stop and think for a moment. Look past that album, to the ones behind it. There you will see a rather odd look black covered album entitled “The Joshua Tree”. Pick it up, and take it to the till instead. Because THAT, that is an album of the like the world had not heard before or has since. If you have not heard U2 before, that is the album for you. That will show you what they are capable of, what they have achieved, and hopefully what they will at some point achieve again. If you are a U2 fan, sure, buy this album. You may be, as I am, disappointed with it, but at least you won’t write them off on the basis of this.

Or, better idea, you could buy…”

Find out Alistair’s alternative suggestion of an album to purchase in the second installment coming later this week.


18 Responses to “No Line on the Horizon Review”

  1. James March 18, 2009 at 11:14 pm #

    Controversial review. I was slightly disappointed with the album, not that I thought it was bad but I was disappointed it didn’t blow me away.

    Moment of Surrender is amazing.

  2. Joel "U2" Loughridge March 20, 2009 at 11:02 am #

    It seems insanity has finally taken full hold of Ali G. Years of living in Ards, and this is the result. I now fear for my other Ardie friends…
    I’d have been dissappointed to read that review if it had been written by a girl. and I will deal with each fallacy in turn.

    Lyrically weak: Granted, there are no outstanding lyrics of the order of ‘Grace’, but if you actually take time to listen to U2s collection, not much of it is brilliant lyrically. So much so that most people don’t know what some of their greatest songs are about and have been wildly misinterepreted. So to critize this album on this basis is daft.

    “Unfortunately Brian Eno saw fit to place these two tracks together on the album, ”
    I actually stammered when I read that. Criticising a U2 album because two of the key songs are beside each other, especially at numbers 2 and 3….
    Atomic Bomb: 2 Miracle Drug, 3 Sometimes.
    All You Cant Leave behind: 2 Stuck in a Moment, 3 Elevation
    Achtung Baby: 2 Even better than the real thing, 3 One.
    Rattle+Hum: 2 Van Diemans Land, 3 Desire
    Joshua tree: 2 Found what I’m Lokking for, 3 With or Without you.
    Don’t make me reach for more from my CD stack…or maybe the reviewer is also disappointed in these albums.

    ‘Unknown Caller’ maybe not your cup of tea, but anybody can see that it’s a hommage to Bowie, one of their Heroes (excuse the pun). And as a hommage to Bowie, without actually playing one of his songs, it’s pretty good, given that most of Bowie is rubbish.

    Contary to the rubbish above, this is not dire, it’s arguably their most consistant album, with 11 listenable to tracks. The beauty of it is, and this is where part time fans struggle, they have again taken themselves in a different direction. The average fan wants another Joshua Tree, an 2009 edition of With or Without You, an modern day One, or the passion of Atomic Bombs 2nd and 3rd tracks. That’s not U2. Never has been. Each album stands alone, and becomes a classic on it’s own. If your opening up a U2 album and saying, “Awk, theres no ‘With or Without You’ track”, “They hav’nt anything like Vertigo”…you’ve missed the point.

    My one criticism would be that it hard to see an anthem on the album, one that makes the stadium roar…
    But guess I’ll just have to wait and see at Croke.

    P.s. love you really Ali!

  3. Ali G March 20, 2009 at 5:01 pm #

    Knew you wern’t going to like this ;-)

    First off, use a spell checker.

    “I actually stammered when I read that. Criticising a U2 album because two of the key songs are beside each other, especially at numbers 2 and 3….”

    My point isn’t that there’s two stand out tracks next to each other, my point is that they’re the ONLY stand out tracks AND they’re next to each other. Your point is valid for their other albums, but Joshua Tree had “Exit”, Atomic Bomb had “Yaweh” and “Original of the Species” etc, in other words, other epic tracks later on in the album. I kept listening to this and just got bored!

    “or maybe the reviewer is also disappointed in these albums.”

    if you actually read the review properly instead of just flaming it you will see that I am more than satisfied with U2’s other albums.

    “The beauty of it is, and this is where part time fans struggle, they have again taken themselves in a different direction… Each album stands alone, and becomes a classic on it’s own.”

    U2 are constantly re-inventing themselves yes, they’re always trying new things and I applaud them for that. It’s just this time I feel it hasn’t worked. I wish they would stop completely discarding their old formula, destroying it entirely, instead using it to see what they got right and where they went wrong, and improving on that.

    “If your opening up a U2 album and saying, “Awk, theres no ‘With or Without You’ track”, “They hav’nt anything like Vertigo”…you’ve missed the point.”

    Translation: “If your opening up a U2 album and saying, “there’s no great tracks, it’s all rubbish”…you’ve missed the point.”

    I’m not looking for another “With or Without You”, I’m just looking for GREAT songs! I don’t want them to sound the same as they always did because, as you said, that wouldn’t be U2. But just because it’s not “With or Without You” doesn’t mean it has to be utter tosh.
    Ok utter tosh is too harsh. “Not great”.

    “‘Unknown Caller’ maybe not your cup of tea, but anybody can see that it’s a hommage to Bowie, one of their Heroes (excuse the pun). And as a hommage to Bowie, without actually playing one of his songs, it’s pretty good, given that most of Bowie is rubbish.”

    Good Point. Motion: U2 should not play rubbish. Can I get that seconded?

    P.S. Love you really Joel :-P

  4. Conor March 21, 2009 at 3:17 pm #

    Joel: very unfair to attribute Ali G’s comments to Ards. Granted he lives in East Ards, and therefore closer to Bangor which may affect his state of mind from time to time.
    But as far as West Ards is concerned, the album is good! I like it. Not gonna go into detail or anything but its a very decent album.
    Ali G: You should give albums a chance to mature like a fine wine (apparently(!))before you judge them so harshly so quickly! You might well regret that review in the future. In fact I confidently predict you will!
    Long live U2, long live Ards!

  5. Joel "U2" Loughridge March 23, 2009 at 9:24 pm #

    Weak response. Really, you havn’t dealt with any of my comments properly except the one about other good tracks on the album. With which I disagree,and is a purely matter of opinion. So really, the only valid arguement is that you personally don’t like the music. And again, missing the point of the re-invention. Not great reviewing.

    I fear Another King may be alienating it’s readers. Rumour has it hordes of West Ardians are moving to rival sites like Shall We Sing and Reformned Covenanter. And as they say in Lesoto, “If even the donkeys are moving to higher ground, the flood has come.”

  6. Conor March 23, 2009 at 10:12 pm #

    “Moving to other sites” might be a bit strong Joel, I didnt know this one existed til I saw this article!
    Tho I dont think I’ll be visiting it again as 100% of the articles Ive read I havent liked (eg Ali G’s)!
    PS I love you Jamesy, really I do. Im not slaggin your site off, it looks impressive!!and im computer illiterate!!
    Everybody say “U2″ if your goin to see U2…..”U2”!!

  7. Cromie R March 24, 2009 at 2:09 am #

    Since music is subjective (objective? I’m in too deep here already, help!), we can only deal in OPINIONS, not FACTS, even though some of us (myself included – see my original reaction to NLOTH!) are wont to portray our opinions as fact.

    OPINION concerning NLOTH – I’m on my fifth listen now. Still bored to tears sadly. It’s not that I wanted Joshua Tree or War replicated, and I can see that U2 are attempting to innovate and remain relevant. It’s just that this particular incarnation of U2 holds no interest for me, to my ears it’s bland MOR soft rock with very little to get excited about. U2 are a stadium band, therefore their MO is to excite, emote and entertain, and there are ways to innovate and remain interesting while sticking to these principles. For me they fail on all three counts here.

    OPINION concerning The Fray – Sorry Ali, I can’t abide them at all.

    OPINION concerning Bowie – Genius.

    Love you all

  8. Creambun March 26, 2009 at 2:12 pm #

    ok ok ok.

    this is all getting a bit too much for me!
    there are a few things which i would like to mention.

    ali g – you can’t just disregard this album because you don’t feel it isn’t up to the standard of quality of the previous albums from the greatest band in the world. U2 are the greatest band in the world, they have made exceptional music over the years and continue to do so. i have only recently gone back to listening to the early U2 stuff and at the beginning it wasn’t really my cup of tea. but now it is amazing! NLOTH is a grower. I’ve listened to it non stop in the car and its a good album. yes there are no stand out tracks but if another band put this album out they would be applauded by there fans.

    Joel – As Conor has said do not attribute Ali G’s thoughts to coming from living in ards. yes you may say i’m a blow in but this is where my spiritual home is and the thought of living in ards has always filled me with joy! i would consider myself an east ardian and am appalled at your comments that we are moving to other sites! it just doesn’t bear thinking about.

    Conor – coming from ards you should know better than to side with a loughridge. he and his fellow people from outside county down do dispise our fair county and wish to burn it too the ground. he must have felt it ok though if he was willing to find a soon to be wife of his in this green and pleasant land!!!

    lets just put all this behind us and move on!
    but i would just like to say that the 24th of July in Croke Park, Dublin will be the best day of my life!


    Jamesy – the site is awesome. you and the lads keep up the good work!!

  9. Joel "U2" Loughridge March 26, 2009 at 5:19 pm #

    I’m sorry for the uproar about my Ards comments. Not as much offense was intended. However, given that Ali G is normally a totally sane and very likeable chap I had to attribute his comments to something. Given my well known views on the Penninsular folk it was the only reasonable answer I could find. As for certain invaluable exports from Co. Down – look long enough in the dung heap and you will find a nugget of pure gold. And what’s dung good for?? Burning!!

    [insert fire smiley here]

  10. Joel "U2" Loughridge March 26, 2009 at 6:29 pm #

    Just to make sure you know, as expected a third U2 date was announced. 27th July. On Sale Wed 1st April.

  11. James March 26, 2009 at 7:11 pm #

    Another chance…

  12. Jonny March 26, 2009 at 10:45 pm #


  13. James March 26, 2009 at 11:39 pm #

    It appears that Jonny’s on the drugs again.

  14. Andy Mcn March 27, 2009 at 12:13 am #

    I believe that Ali should no longer be referred to as from Ards as he resides the majority of his week in the northern region of the country. This is sadly having an adverse effect on his usually sound judgement and therefore any comments made should not be taken as a reflection of the general option of the fine folk of Newtownards.

    Long live U2, long live Ards!

  15. Gavin March 27, 2009 at 2:01 am #

    I would have to side with joel on this one NLOTH is different and I know we are working in opinions here but I love it and I had to give it a chance first time I listened to “get your boots” I nearly fell off my seat in shock I thought that song was horrendous now I love it, same with the album I had to sit and think the first 3-4 times listening to it is this complete garbage or really good but not what I expected and I have to say it’s the latter. On anthems I think magnificent has potential to be one, I think it will be a song that gathers pace with time and finally Ali I’m sorry I think the Frau are a decent band but they couldn’t string u2’s guitars no matter how bad u2’s work was.

  16. Joel "U2" Loughridge March 27, 2009 at 1:01 pm #

    Ali G = Proverbs 12v16b

  17. James December 23, 2009 at 9:26 pm #

    Interestingly Rolling Stone named NLONH as the best album of the year.

    It might also interest U2 fans to hear the new song by the band off some movie soundtrack.

  18. Andy December 23, 2009 at 11:04 pm #

    It’s all about number 3 on the top 25 songs list though..

    Quite like that U2 song…possibly more than anything on the new album..

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