Interscope Records, 2009
By: Bryant Francis
Let’s get one thing clear right now–this is NOT The Joshua Tree. There will never be another Joshua Tree; the band itself has declared (somewhat metaphorically) that it is past The Joshua Tree.
Now, with that out of the way, let’s focus on what this album actually is. No Line on the Horizon is, by far, one of the most eccentric efforts the band has produced since the entire Zoo TV movement of the mid-’90s. It bounces around from experimental to traditional, psychedelic to melodic, and other transitions that the band hasn’t made over the course of a single album before.
The album as a whole, however, presents an interesting quandary. There’s a reason most mainstream bands tend to stick to one style of music for each album–and that’s consistency. Unlike the rest of the band’s 11 studio albums, there’s not much of a uniting theme here. But in the end, this actually makes the album stronger, and testifies to what U2 actually is–a band that can’t, at this point, be personified by any one album. There’s the ’80s sound that was popular around the time Star Wars was still brand new; there’s the blues-influenced sound that produced The Joshua Tree; the sort of electronic techno sound of European clubs that went into Achtung Baby; I could go on.
The point is the album’s good, but what you’ll actually get out of it is what you want out of U2. If you want something in the vein of classic rock, that’s here. If you’re looking for the experimental, that’s here too. The mournful ballads, the love songs–all here. Even if you totally hate U2 and want to hear something besides that cheesy “Beautiful Day” that plays on the radio all the time, I really suggest you take a listen. The band makes a great effort to welcome all ears, and it appears that they may have finally figured out just what it takes to turn the world into their audience.