U2 – How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb (Interscope, 2004)
I had fallen away from U2 over the past several years. After Achtung Baby, the band's endless genre experiments came to strike me as pandering and I kind of drifted away from their music toward rock bands that were more edgy and less self absorbed. But like true-believers Neil Young and Elvis Costello, their experimentalism eventually gave way to the realization that the music that best expresses their vision is the straight-ahead rock and roll that brought them an audience in the first place. In this case they are aided by one of their finest and catchiest singles in years, “Vertigo,” and you can’t get away from it considering their deal with Apple and Itunes.
It works well though, and ushers in an album where the band at least takes a stab at returning to its roots. Blasting, anthemic rockers such as “Vertigo” and “All Because Of You” are mixed up with plaintive ballads like “Sometimes You Can’t Make It On Your Own” to make a very successful CD. It will be interesting to see how they carry on from here. U2 is such an institution now that they’ve gone beyond being a band and have become a product. Maybe now that they don’t have anything left to prove, they can get back to what they do best.
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