Cedars of Lebanon: Another storytelling song, but very reminiscent of “If You Wear That Velvet Dress” or “Your Blue Room”…talking over low music, not subject mater. And then it just ends…The whole album just ends. That was odd. Ok the song…it’s really almost just spoken word, apparently about a war reporter. Another grown up sort of song, and again not something I’d usually be very into, but it’s well done.
Grade: B – it’s interesting, will have to listen more
As a whole….At first few listens, it’s not awful. It’s still U2, but it doesn’t sound like cookie cutter, U2 by numbers, like the last album (or 2). I wouldn’t call it ground breaking the way Eno/Lanois/U2 have been describing it. It certainly is not “molten metal from mars” and maybe Bono should not be allowed to talk about their recordings before the album comes out haha. Despite what other reviews say, there is not much sonic adventure, which I think would be necessary for something to be “ground breaking” (unless you count organs and random horns for no reason). I really can’t hear ANY sort of musical experimentation in any of the songs.
In a way it also doesn’t seem like a lot of fun either. It has peppier songs, but it seems very heavy for some reason. It doesn’t make a lot of sense, there is no overarching sound that wraps everything into a cohesive album. I was reminded that it was recorded in 4 locations, so maybe that’s it. You can group songs together….”White as snow” and “cedars of lebanon”…”unknown caller” and “crazy”…”breathe”, “magnificent”, “stand up comedy” and i guess you’d have to throw “boots” and “no line on the horizon” in that group too. “fez-being born” and “moment of surrender” are sort of both on their own. There doesn’t seem to be any strong singles, I can’t really imagine any of the songs on the radio – even the ones that I like. I figure they’ll go with “unknown caller” and “crazy” as singles because they are “safe”.
It’s going to take a few more listens to make a final decision as to if this is going to sit on the shelf along side Bomb and All That You Can’t Leave Behind. I have to remember that in my past experiences with U2, I have to let albums sit unlistened to and then go back to them to really appreciate them (though that didn’t work with Bomb, it’s still not good).