How To Dismantle an Atomic Bomb (2004)


 
1. Vertigo 2. Miracle Drug 3. Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own 4. Love and Peace or Else 5. City of Blinding Lights 6. All Because of You 7. A Man and a Woman 8. Crumbs From Your Table 9. One Step Closer 10.Origin of the Species 11.Yahweh




 

Of all of the albums in this band's illustrious career, this is the one that seems, to me anyway, to be the most overlooked. I'm not entirely sure why. It could be that since U2 is such a phenomenal band in terms of popularity, that most of their new releases are greeted with enormous fanfare and hoopla. Maybe I missed something, but I didn't really see much of that around this record's release. To be fair, though, they did do a massive marketing campaign with Apple around the record's release - with Apple selling a sort of 'U2 Ipod' or something. I also remember the jiggling silhouettes on the commercial for the (then, somewhat new)iPod to the tune of the first single Veritigo, so maybe there was a lot of attention. It also cleaned up pretty well at the Grammy's.

Another reason could be that this record didn't exactly pull or push the guys in any type of new direction. It seemed to just be a collection of songs. It's very hard to pinpoint this album and finish the phrase 'This is the album that U2 __________'. Since these guys were quite frequently embracing new styles of their new records, it can be easily seen why this one was a bit ignored since they seemed to be playing this one safe.

Whatever. For me, what really matters is the quality of the music on this record is top-notch. They may sound like generic U2, but all of the songs are still awesome, and it was obvious that great care went into making the album even if they might be in a bit of a holding pattern. Bono, upon this record's release, claimed it was the 'first U2 rock and roll album'. That's probably exaggerating things just a bit - but when Bono talks, you always have to take a bit of what he says as tongue in cheek. Yes, the above mentioned Vertigo does rock pretty hard, as does the second single All Because of You, but there's, again, nothing about these records that are going to cause any sort of major shake up in terms of fan loyalty or getting new fans, even.

What they seem to be doing on this record, is taking bits and pieces of their past, and incorporating them with new melodies and structures to where they sound different and fresh, so you can't accuse them of rehashing their glory days. I can't help but still think that Vertigo has a bit of the same flair and energy as I Will Follow from Boy, yet it really doesn't sound much at all like that track, so everyone is happy. You could also find some small similarities between Love and Peace or Else and Bullet the Blue Sky, but the newer song is a lot less serious, and seems to invite the fans to dance rather than just listen. As a matter of fact, Love and Peace or Else is really the closest thing to a political song on the album, even though the album title may lead you to believe you were getting something otherwise.

For the most part, these are just brilliant songs. Sometimes You Can't Make it On Your Own would have to be one of my all time favorite U2 songs, with its slow start, slow build up, and then explosion of feeling and emotion right about where it should be. City of Blinding Light is another powerful song (again, I hear small similarities,at least during the opening, to Where the Streets Have No Name), that probably should have opened up the album. I guess they felt Vertigo was a better candidate for that spot. The song did, thankfully, opening up most of the shows on the tour. Really, the only thing on the album that comes across as less than brilliant is the heavily acoustic A Man and a Woman. Not a bad song, by any means, but it doesn't quite capture the intensity and emotion of everything else that's here.

This album may have been slagged off by some as not being innovative enough, or simply just a collection of songs, but this package of songs was the best they've assembled for quite sometimes. Even though there were many in the industry that ended up loving it, it still is probably their most underrated record.

Back To Main Page
Go To Next Review