No Line on the Horizon [Limited Magazine Version]

( 2 )

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Mark Schwartz
Marx's dictum about history held that its repetitions degenerate from tragedy to farce. Apparently no one told Bono and company, whose phoenix-like rebirth since 2000's All That You Can't Leave Behind has been heavily indebted to innovative sonic reproductions of the band's back catalog. Indeed, like seasoned jazz performers, U2 have opted to trade headlong exploration for refinement of technique, and there's nothing farcical about it. Even an album like No Line On the Horizon, which owes its more searching sound to the itchy period that began with 1991's Achtung Baby carries itself with a maturity and, yes, world-weariness that speaks to experience, not repetition. ...
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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Mark Schwartz
Marx's dictum about history held that its repetitions degenerate from tragedy to farce. Apparently no one told Bono and company, whose phoenix-like rebirth since 2000's All That You Can't Leave Behind has been heavily indebted to innovative sonic reproductions of the band's back catalog. Indeed, like seasoned jazz performers, U2 have opted to trade headlong exploration for refinement of technique, and there's nothing farcical about it. Even an album like No Line On the Horizon, which owes its more searching sound to the itchy period that began with 1991's Achtung Baby carries itself with a maturity and, yes, world-weariness that speaks to experience, not repetition. Much as Achtung fed off the energy of post-wall Berlin, No Line draws inspiration from Fez, Morocco, with its mix of arid desert vista and teeming, chintzy souk. "Magnificent," with its synths echoing a Cairo soundtrack orchestra, and "Moment of Surrender," whose looped percussive hiccups recall Gnawa trance music, seem particularly indebted to North African aural architecture. This richness comes courtesy of classic collaborators Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois, who make a peace with the kicky garage-rock ("Get on Your Boots") and the more spacious vibes of '80s U2. (Steve Lillywhite, credited with additional production, completes the Achtung reunion - but where's Flood?) The result is simultaneously new and vintage as a pair of factory-distressed blue jeans.
All Music Guide - Stephen Thomas Erlewine
A rock & roll open secret: U2 care very much about what other people say about them. Ever since they hit the big time in 1987 with The Joshua Tree, every album is a response to the last -- rather, a response to the response, a way to correct the mistakes of the last album: Achtung Baby erased the roots rock experiment Rattle and Hum, All That You Can't Leave Behind straightened out the fumbling Pop, and 2009's No Line on the Horizon is a riposte to the suggestion they played it too safe on 2004's How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb. After recording two new cuts with Rick Rubin for the '06 compilation U218 and flirting with will.i.am, U2 reunited with Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois (here billed as "Danny" for some reason), who not only produced The Joshua Tree but pointed the group toward aural architecture on The Unforgettable Fire. Much like All That You Can't and Atomic Bomb, which were largely recorded with their first producer, Steve Lillywhite, this is a return to the familiar for U2, but where their Lillywhite LPs are characterized by muscle, the Eno/Lanois records are where the band take risks, and so it is here that U2 attempts to recapture that spacy, mysterious atmosphere of The Unforgettable Fire and then take it further. Contrary to the suggestion of the clanking, sputtering first single "Get on Your Boots" -- its riffs and "Pump It Up" chant sounding like a cheap mashup stitched together in GarageBand -- this isn't a garish, gaudy electro-dalliance in the vein of Pop. Apart from a stilted middle section -- "Boots," the hamfisted white-boy funk "Stand Up Comedy," and the not-nearly-as-bad-as-its-title anthem "I'll Go Crazy if I Don't Go Crazy Tonight"; tellingly, the only three songs here to not bear co-writing credits from Eno and Lanois -- No Line on the Horizon is all austere grey tones and midtempo meditation. It's a record that yearns to be intimate but U2 don't do intimate, they only do majestic, or as Bono sings on one of the albums best tracks, they do "Magnificent." Here, as on "No Line on the Horizon" and "Breathe," U2 strike that unmistakable blend of soaring, widescreen sonics and unflinching openhearted emotion that's been their trademark, turning the intimate into something hauntingly universal. These songs resonate deeper and longer than anything on Atomic Bomb, their grandeur almost seeming effortless. It's the rest of the record that illustrates how difficult it is to sound so magnificent. With the exception of that strained middle triptych, the rest of the album is in the vein of "No Line on the Horizon," "Magnificent" and "Breathe," only quieter and unfocused, with its ideas drifting instead of gelling. Too often, the album whispers in a murmur so quiet it's quite easy to ignore -- "White as Snow," an adaptation of a traditional folk tune, and "Cedars of Lebanon," its verses not much more than a recitation, simmer so slowly they seem to evaporate -- but at least these poorly defined subtleties sustain the hazily melancholy mood of No Line on the Horizon. When U2, Eno, and Lanois push too hard -- the ill-begotten techno-speak overload of "Unknown Caller," the sound sculpture of "Fez-Being Born" -- the ideas collapse like a pyramid of cards, the confusion amplifying the aimless stretches of the album, turning it into a murky muddle. Upon first listen, No Line on the Horizon seems as if it would be a classic grower, an album that makes sense with repeated spins, but that repetition only makes the album more elusive, revealing not that U2 went into the studio with a dense, complicated blueprint, but rather, they had no plan at all. [A "limited magazine version" was also released.]
Rolling Stone
...No Line on the Horizon, [is] U2's first album in nearly five years and their best, in its textural exploration and tenacious melodic grip, since 1991's Achtung Baby.
Spin Magazine
1/2 With coproducers Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois explicitly included in the songwriting, it’s an effort to tinker and rough up and refine anew their music’s essence--with nobly sketchy results.
Entertainment Weekly - Jeff Jensen
No Line on the Horizon is an eclectic and electrifying winner, one that speaks to the zeitgeist the way only U2 can and dare to do. [A-]
Los Angeles Times - Ann Powers
No Line on the Horizon partakes of that romance by trying to expose its inner workings. It's risky to expose those delineations; as the band said long ago, it's like trying to throw your arms around the world. But the effort has its payoffs.

...No Line on the Horizon, [is] U2's first album in nearly five years and their best, in its textural exploration and tenacious melodic grip, since 1991's Achtung Baby.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 3/3/2009
  • Label: Interscope Records
  • UPC: 602517960312
  • Catalog Number: 001263702
  • Sales rank: 337,893

Album Credits

Performance Credits
U2 Primary Artist
The Edge Guitar, Piano, Vocals
Adam Clayton Bass Guitar
Caroline Dale Cello
Brian Eno Synthesizer, Vocals
Larry Mullen Jr. Percussion, Drums
Cathy Thompson Violin
Richard Watkins French Horn
will.i.am Keyboards
Sam O'Sullivan Percussion
Terry Lawless Piano, Keyboards, fender rhodes
Louis Watkins Soprano (Vocal)
Technical Credits
U2 Arranger, Composer
Brian Eno Arranger, Composer, Programming, Producer, Rhythm Loops
Steve Lillywhite Producer
Cenzo Townshend Engineer
Carl Glanville Engineer
Tony Mangurian Programming, Engineer
Cheryl Engels Quality Control
Florian Ammon Engineer
Paul McGuinness Management
Richard Rainey Engineer
will.i.am Producer
Traditional Composer
Sam O'Sullivan Studio Manager, Drum Technician
Dallas Schoo Guitar Techician
Declan Gaffney Engineer
Dave Emery Engineer
John C.F. Davis Mastering
Hiroshi Sugimoto Cover Photo
Danny Lanois Composer
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Pretty Good

    Everyone will have an opinion on this album, but at this point I feel it's not their best but by far not their worst album. (I personally think their worst was HTDAAB) I recently told a friend that with this album you have to be patient with it and listen to it several times. It will grow on you.

    Chris Metheson.... I don't mean to nit-pick your review, but it's "sad to say" not "said to say"

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 27, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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