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CD Reviews: Review of How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb by U2
Paulsen Home / CD Reviews Home / Entertainment Channel / Entertainment Web Guide

Click here to buy yourself a copy from Amazon.com U2: How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb (Interscope/Universal 2004)

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Unless you can claim complete ignorance of their body of work, it’s impossible to listen to any new U2 album and not compare it to the sheer brilliance in the band’s past, namely The Joshua Tree (1987) and Achtung Baby (1991). Since then, U2 has proven that they are still capable of writing great songs, but their last few attempts make me wonder if they are still capable of delivering a great album. Like its recent predecessors, their latest effort How To Dismantle an Atomic Bomb, has a few great tracks, but on the whole it just fails to amaze like Joshua and Achtung once did.

The album’s opener, “Vertigo,” is an arena rock anthem and appears to be this go-around’s “Beautiful Day.” The strange first line “unos, dos, tres, catorce” which translates to “ones, two, three, fourteen” makes me wonder if Bono really knows any Spanish or if he is just being somehow ironic. Regardless, the album gets off to an energetic start before pushing into the mediocre “Miracle Drug,” which is the type of song that never would have made the Joshua or Achtung cuts. The next track, “Sometimes You Can’t Make It On Your Own,” is a beautiful, personal ballad that takes a few listens to fully sink in. “Love and Peace Or Else” is arguably the best song on the album and has an industrial “Zoo Station” feel to it. Next up is “The City of Blinding Lights,” which has a somewhat appealing melody that is trumped by the trite chorus “Oh, you look so beautiful tonight”. Ugh.

“All Because Of You” is an infectious rocker; Bono sings, “I like the sound of my own voice / I never gave anyone else a choice,” which, given his talent, is probably a good thing. The second half of the disc isn’t as bad as the flip side of All That You Can’t Leave Behind, but it’s no work of art, either. The two best tracks are the subtle “One Step Closer” and the inspirational “Yahweh,” but neither holds a candle to Joshua’s “One Tree Hill” or Achtung’s “Ultra Violet (Light My Way).” Maybe I’m just waxing nostalgic, but the guys are obviously past their prime and, while they’re still putting out good music, it’s never going to be as good as it once was.

Key tracks: “Love And Peace Or Else,” “Vertigo,” “Sometimes You Can’t Make It On Your Own,” “All Because Of You”

Let’s combine the best from last two albums to create one amazing disc:

1. Love And Peace Or Else
2. Elevation
3. Beautiful Day
4. Sometimes You Can’t Make It On Your Own
5. Stuck In A Moment You Can’t Get Out Of
6. Vertigo
7. All Because Of You
8. Flower Child*
9. Wild Honey
10. One Step Closer
11. Walk On
12. In A Little While
13. Yahweh

* an excellent song ponderously left off All That You Can’t Leave Behind 

~John Paulsen 


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