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U2 produces another classic

Becca Saunders | Thursday, December 2, 2004

There are few newly-released albums that can be called “a classic” in this era of music. Often groups are “revolutionary” or “ground-breaking” and are noted for that, but few musical performers are able to take the genre of rock and roll, rich in history and influence, and make an album that is truly great. Bono, the Edge, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen Jr. accomplish this feat in the latest U2 album “How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb.” U2 has taken a genre that it has heavily influenced and created an album with a strong U2 character, yet one that is still new and distinct, and all this has been done without letting a single bad song slip onto the album. Early rumors of “How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb” had it donned by Bono himself as U2’s first rock album. While the two truly rock songs on the album, “Vertigo” and “Love and Peace or Else,” are great songs, they are the only two songs that have a heavy rock beat behind them. The rest of the album is composed of what U2 does best: the rock ballad. The remaining nine songs on “How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb” are all songs that are better than most rock bands’ singles. Songs with terrific melodies, strong music composition and moving lyrics seem to be average fair for U2 on this album. U2 has been around for awhile, and thus it is not entirely surprising that its songs are not composed of lyrics concerning anything less than enlightening. The song “Miracle Drug,” which has been misinterpreted by many as a song about AIDS, is in fact about a man from the high school the members of U2 attended. This boy was completely paralyzed, but his mother would still talk to him out of her love for him. Eventually he began taking a drug that gave him the ability to blink his eye and through this ability he conveyed moving poems to his mother that had been stored up in his head. This man experienced a whole new world because of his mother’s dedication to him. Bono sings of his newfound freedom in one of the best lyrics on the album: “Freedom has a scent / Like the top of a new born baby’s head.” The song is about the powerful love the mother had for her son, “I am you and you are mine / Love makes no sense of space / And time.” This song covers much more than your average rock song. In that same spirit, “Sometimes You Can’t Make it on Your Own” is a beautiful acoustic sounding slow song that sounds like a song about a couple, but Bono wrote about it his father. Another terrific song, “One Step Closer,” is also about Bono’s father, who died a couple of years ago. It was inspired by a conversation with one of the Gallagher brothers of the band Oasis about Bono’s father. Gallagher had asked if his father died a believer, and Bono told him that he was not sure, and Gallagher responded that at least now he was one step closer to knowing. Bono claims to have known at that moment he was going to write that into a song. As the main lyricist throughout the majority of the album, Bono exercises his immense talent in writing songs that are powerfully personal, yet at the same time immensely universal. There is hardly a line in the album that is not poignant and memorable. While not all the songs on “How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb” are terrific, they are generally pretty close. “City of Blinding Lights,” written about U2’s first visit to New York City has an introduction rivaling the moving intro to the classic, “Where the Streets Have No Name.” There is something to be said for and about every song on the album, and that is a novel occurrence. “How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb” may very well turn out to be one of U2’s best albums in regards to almost every song being really spectacular. It definitely at least holds its own in the ranks among “Achtung Baby” and “All That You Can’t Leave Behind.” U2 fan or not, it would be hard not to at least appreciate the pure experience and ingenuity that shines through on every track of “How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb.”