THE BACKGROUND: In his Big Hollywood post, "U2 & Me", Matt Patterson discusses his mixed, but ultimately positive, reaction to "No Line on the Horizon", which I refer to by the title of this post. I posted this comment:
U2 was one of the few acts I would still schlep down to the Beast Buy to plunk down my Hamilton to blind (deaf?) buy their latest on the day it came out. When the album leaked a couple weeks early, I decided to try before I bought and I am so glad I didn't waste a farthing for this turgid bore of an album.
Background: I've been a fan of theirs since 1980 when a high school pal had a t-shirt for their "Boy" album. My band covered "I Will Follow" at our annual Big 80s show last year. I have all their albums except for "Poop" (as I call it), which was such half-baked mess due to their having to push it out the door in time for the already-planned tour. (I gave that to my girlfriend with whom our first real date was a Zoo TV concert in 1992.)
I thought "All That You Can't Leave Behind" was the sound of a band with nothing to prove casually rebounding from their self-inflicted irony overload and delivering a solid album. I call "How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb" a "Wonderbra album" because what was up front - the sublime "Vertigo" - was just a tease because what came after was a flat experience that sounded like the Edge scrolling thru his guitar effect presets of classic tones.
Where "No Bars on the Verizon" (heh) flops is that the laziness and distractedness of the lyrics are only compounded by the lackluster music. Larry is playing the same beats; the best lick in the title track is the one Edge nicked from "The Fly"; every song is a slow to mid-tempo dirge except "Get On Your Boots" which serves as a midpoint wake-up nudge more than an exciting and memorable song.
Most critics are just rubber-stamping 5-star/A+ reviews for this thing like they automatically award the latest loaves pinched by Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, or any act that bashed Dubya. Fans who can't cope with the idea that their beloved band could fail are happy-talking, too. But for those still able to see whether the monarch dressed for the day or not, "No Bars" is the sound of a band that should decide whether they want to save the world or save their musical reputations.