From the staccato riffs that open "Vertigo," to the triumphant cries that
close "Yahweh," U2 have crafted another cozy set of arena-friendly rock. But
for their 11th studio release, "How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb," the boys
turn up the amplifiers pairing to great effect Edge's cranked up guitar with
the pounding of Larry Mullen Jr.'s drums.
And it's pretty fierce, too. "Vertigo," "Love And Peace Or Else." "All
Because Of You" and "Crumbs From Your Table" are a melting pot of swirling
guitars, splintering drums and sensuous vocals. If this makes the album
sound safe, the set is given a greater resonance by the most penetrating
lyrics Bono has written. While the tracks build on the old school flavour
that made 2000's "All That You Can't Leave Behind" such a success, Bono
invigorates the set with words that tug at the heartstrings and bathe in the
uncertainty of the here and now.
The stories heard on "Atomic Bomb" will take listeners on a journey that
pauses at all the necessary existential rest stops. Love ("A Man And A
Woman," "All Because of You"), death ("Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your
Own"), politics ("Love And Peace or Else," "Crumbs From Your Table"), God
("Yahweh") and the passage of time ("Original Of The Species"), are covered
in textbook fashion.
But some of the individual tales are stand-alone masterpieces. "You're the
reason I sing/ You're the reason why the opera is in me," Bono sings on
"Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own," and a hushed guitar matches his
every note, acoustic picking slowly giving rise to the singer's emotional
cries of "Don't leave me here alone."
"Love And Peace Or Else" lurches forward with a percussive beat that
corresponds with Bono's swaggering, "We need some release, release, release,
release," and then cedes to Edge's catchy guitar as Bono sings," I wonder
where is the love?/ Where is the love?/ Love and peace."
The folksy "A Man And A Woman," finds Bono trading lines with Edge's elastic
strumming, with a shot of "Wild Honey" added for flavour. In spots - such as
the sleek rocker "All Because Of You - U2 return to the sound that made them
so arrestingly popular in the first place. But the up-tempo closer "Yahweh"
finds the band delivering a religious-infused patisserie that best sums up a
band now intent on producing a more tender brand of rock 'n' roll.
Writer: Mark Daniell