I went to great lengths to not hear U2's No Line on the Horizon until it was officially released on March 3. Believe it or not, I resisted temptation and my first listen was at about 9pm on March 2 (it was already March 3 on the East Coast and the album was available on AmazonMP3). The first listen was at a low volume and all I did was sit and listen...no notes, no real analysis at all. The next day I listened to it pretty much non-stop. That night I got home from work and listened to it with notepad open with the intention of writing a review. I started with rough notes. I kept listening and listening and listening. I went back and forth on how to review the album. Upon first listen I would have rated it 4 stars (out of 5 if I believed in stars). That next day I started to digest it a little more. I started to hear themes and patterns. I recognized that the song structures were similar to what I'd observed in How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb and "Window in the Skies". It started to feel like U2 had created an album for me...or for fanatics. There seem to be lots of hints to other work they'd done going all the way back to Boy. I'm now confident giving it a 5 star review. Here's a quote from The Mad Fishicist [posted without permission]:
"the melodies of unforgettable fire,
the guitars of achtung baby,
the rhythm of pop,
and the sentiment of how to dismantle an atomic bomb got together one night for a few beers,
but got so drunk they couldn't find their keys.
no line on the horizon had them the whole time."
And as a treat, to you few readers who still tune in, I'm including the first notepad text I jotted down on day 2.
1. No Line on the Horizon
wow great opening, feels like a preface to the journey
Verse: my favorite Bono voice register
Chorus – Simplicity
Verse: time is irrelevant…
Intro: that’s a meaty chord
This will be the live song of the tour!
Very “Until the End of the World”
Edge and Larry rockin us into the chorus
Only Love – Can make such a mark, can heal such a scar
Adam’s challenging himself
I’m air guitaring…I can’t help it in this bridge/solo
I want a djembe a la The Visitor
3. Moment of Surrender
Neat little intro very Achtung Baby
Part "Love is Blindness", part "So Cruel"
Feels like "N + S of the River", might be trying to be the "So Cruel" wherein the drug is the lover.
Bono’s not cheating on the vocals, he’s selling it.
It’s not if I believe in love, if love believes in me…oh believe in me.
Kinda Pink Floyd -> momentary lapse of reason
Understated little solo with piano and Edge taunting us
There’s the Edge…lots of compression, just what the song needs.
4. Unknown Caller
Intro - Feels like "Walk On", birds chirping
Wow, sounds like vocals off of War
Verse - Back to Achtung Baby
Bridge - Go Shout it Out, Rise Up
Chorus 2 – Restart and Reboot Yourself, nice
French Horn transitioning to Solo – Edge making guitar sing
5. I'll Go Crazy if I Don't Go Crazy Tonight
Larry nice beat
Cheesy lyrics? Bono, falsetto trying to do the New Radicals thing?
Chorus kicks – great melody, Edge ripping
Answer to cheesy lyrics “The right to be ridiculous is something I hold dear” ironic lyrics?
Background melody in chorus
BABY BABY BABY Bridge (Ultraviolet)
Another solo with Pridesqe sounds including the arena sing along anthem.
Adam winding down.
6. Get On Your Boots
Syncronous bass/guitar…bass pulls through
Ah, "The Fly" of 2009.
You don’t know how beautiful you are (You don’t know octave)
Reminds me of CoBL "Oh you look so beautiful tonight, in the city of blinding lights"
Larry working it.
Let me in the Sound…awesome!
Get on your boots, not get your boots on or put on your boots…interesting
7. Stand Up Comedy
Fall down, stand up
Lyrics had to have come last
Stop helping God across the road like a little old lady
Historical references...do some research
Small man with big ideas, ha!
Humming into the bridge
Solo in the bridge
They think it’s hardcore, with a few changes it would be.
8. FEZ - Being Born
FEZ- great contrast – Let me in the sound…sounds like Great Expectations sndtrk song…look that up. [edit: "Siren" Tori Amos]
Being Born- driving intro…we’re gonna go somewhere in this song.
Layer 2- Holy… elevated (who’s playing piano?)
Verse – brought it back down, but Larry’s still driving us
Adam – nice
Chorus? Is this a chorus or a bridge? Is there a chorus? Well
crafted structured. Here’s a bridge.
10 bucks says Bono wanted to have some anthemic chorus at one point but simplified it.
How would this look live?
Transistions to drop down for next song.
9. White As Snow
This takes me to Ireland or Sarajevo.
Sounds like Sinead could sing this
Good bridge (?) Lanois on steel string?
There’s Bono’s voice.
Edge + piano
John Lennon sounding
3 things 3
These days are better than that
Can see this being incredible live
Solo pulls us into a bridge
Chorus is the simple U2 chords we’re used to.
11. Cedars of Lebanon
Ladies and gentlemen, it’s "Love is Blindness"
It’s a talkie
Interesting little chorus with the harmony
Return the call to home
Very Eno/Lanois sounding with strings and keys
Abrupt end, brilliant
Feels like "Promenade", but much darker