The Austin Chronicle Guide to SXSW 2017


No Line on the Horizon (Universal)

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No Line on the Horizon (Universal)

Dublin's home brew never made a bad album, but it's nursed plenty of hangovers: sophomore slump October, Joshua Tree runoff Rattle and Hum, Achtung Baby backwash Zooropa. In the wake of U2's rebirth after 2000's All That You Can't Leave Behind and How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb four years later, No Line on the Horizon reaches for The Unforgettable Fire's post-War reinvention but misfires this side of Pop without the songs. That initial single "Get on Your Boots" smells of Bomb detonate "Vertigo" constitutes the first clue. Using all three U2 studio designates, meanwhile – Lanois, Eno, and Lillywhite – produces Hell's Kitchen, not the usual soufflé of anthems. The opening title cut could be off any of the band's last three LPs, while "Magnificent" refracts the band's bad-hair heyday as if it were Simple Minds. Soft undulation "Moment of Surrender" leaks inane lyrics, which cripple Horizon. The death of Bono's da fueled U2's previous two discs, but here "I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight" aborts on title alone, and lyrics by committee piss away an affecting vocal and melody on "White as Snow." Closer "Cedars of Lebanon" wouldn't make The Joshua Tree bonus disc. Rectification: a bad album, another U2 first.


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