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U2, “How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb” (Interscope)

I grudgingly give it up for U2. They know how to lead from their strength.

The opening track/first single of their new album is terrific, no way around it. With a nifty Spanish four-count intro recalling, intentionally or not, “Woolly Bully,” this is a truly great hard rocker that doesn’t really sound all that much like the U2 sonic trademark. Indeed, it isn’t until the end of the second song that you start to recognize the Edge’s patented guitar texturing as a distinct component.

But face it! So much of U2’s songs is that standout guitar sound, that and Bono’s overwrought vocals. Otherwise, they tend to go nowhere, as in “Love and Peace or Else,” which despite the intriguing title is rather pointless and dragging; the first minute, in fact, is needlessly drawn-out nothingness.

“All Because of You” almost makes it, mainly because it sounds like a concise Kinks song before deteriorating into a bland chorus. And that’s the problem with most of the album, especially the closing “Yahweh,” in which Bono surely puts God to sleep. Still, “How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb” (which does not come with a helpful diagram) is a huge commercial album that is perfectly timed for U2’s forthcoming induction into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame. / Issue 46 - September 7135
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