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U2's eleventh studio album How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb was released in 2004. I was at uni at the time, and working part-time in the Paperchase concession inside Borders in York. They used to play CDs there, generally newly-released ones, and this album was one of them. I really liked it, and ended up buying it, despite not owning any other U2 albums (except for their two greatest hits collections).
The album opens with Vertigo, a brilliant song that is immensely catchy, was frequently played in clubs, and yet is so much more than this. Other, similar rock anthems are included on the album, such as All Because of You and Yaweh.
One of the highlights of the album is Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own, which Bono wrote about his dead father. This song is very moving and has reduced me to tears on several occasions. The band's political side comes out too, on tracks like Love and Peace or Else and Miracle Drug ("Freedom has a scent like the top of a newborn baby's head").
There seems to be a note of cynicism and sadness on the album. "No I could never take a chance/Of losing love to find romance", Bono sings on A Man And A Woman. Crumbs from Your Table reveals a note of idealism: "You speak of science and wonder, but I need something other".
The music on the album is largely old-school U2, distinctive guitar work from The Edge working well alongside the bass and rhythms. It's a strong, confident album with a huge range of sounds and emotions. In fact, writing this review is making me wonder if I should go out and buy more albums by the band.
Overall, a fantastic album that I thoroughly recommend.
2. Miracle Drug
3. Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own
4. Love and Peace or Else
5. City of Blinding Lights
6. All Because of You
7. A Man and a Woman
8. Crumbs From Your Table
9. One Step Closer
10. Original of the Species
12. Fast Cars
U2 is an Irish band formed in 1976 and consists of four members, including Bono (vocals and guitar), The Edge (guitar, keyboards, vocals), Adam (bass guitar) and Larry (drums). U2 has been known for more than thirty years, and already started in 1976. The band members met at school and decided to start a band. They have since then grown in terms of music and had influences of rock, alternative rock, punk, dance and pop. Especially in recent years was increasingly criticized for being too much inclined to Pop music and less focused on rock. Eventually, they released 12 albums and more than 150 million albums sold worldwide. The best part is that the band still consists of all original members.
How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb - U2
How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb is the 11th studio album by Irish band U2 released in 2004. Total they have sold more than 9 million albums worldwide and have released four singles which all were successful in the charts. It is a rock album which takes U2 back to where they are good at, but they themselves say that this is only their first real rock album.
Vertigo starts well with a nice and powerful use of the drum and guitar which makes this song kick of well. Bono starts strong with his voice and quickly you hear the instruments kick in. It is a good rock song with a nice up tempo and powerful chorus and the occasional small rapids again making sure you never get bored. Great powerful song.
Miracle Drug is a bit slower in pace and is a beautiful kind of calm moment after the first track. The song is no less powerful, but remains more mid tempo. Again the guitar and drum are forcefully. What I particularly like is on this album is that Bono's voice sounds much stronger and harder and that fits well with the rock theme. They confine themselves more to the use of only a few instruments and certainly this song sounds great. Very nice mid tempo number.
Sometimes You Can not Make It on Your Own
Sometimes You Can not Make It on Your Own is a totally different number compared with the first two songs. It is not hard rock song, but such more a subtle song. Bono's voice sounds a lot softer and the use of the instruments is also less strong. Here and there the volume will slightly go up in order to ensure that the number remains interesting. One of my favorites.
Love and Peace or Else
With the beginning of this song I was again taken back to one of their older albums in which the electric guitar was used and a bit strange electronic sounds. Fortunately that is only in the beginning of the song because soon begins the drum and Bono singing. The strange electronic sound will change much more quickly in a real guitar and suddenly the whole song is firmly in place. Here and there they change in gears, but overall remains fairly mid tempo. A lovely song but one where you should start as income.
All Because of You
The song starts with a powerful electric guitar with a high note and soon the pace is good in there. It is a less powerful song, but rather an up tempo song with a nice sound. Bono's voice sounds on the whole less powerful to the chorus. A nice up beat song!
Certainly one of the best albums of U2 and the men go completely rock and that is something they definitely should do more often. I think they are too often distracted by other musical influences and that they were therefore less rock and more funk and even some alternative. With this album they do what they do best and you also notice that they totally go for it with full of passion using the instruments and while singing. A wonderful album and definitely worth five stars!
How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb is another album by the Irish rockers U2. This album came out back in 2004 and was a big hit for the band. The band have a massive fan base so this album sold plenty of copies for the band. I got this album a few years ago and thought it was time I got round to reviewing it. So here is what I thought of each song:
1. Vertigo - A big rock song to start the album off. Its a good song with fast paced lyrics and a strong beat. This is one of those songs that everyone has heard and everytime I hear it it gets me tapping my feet. 4/5
2. Miracle Drug - A really nice mellow intro to this song. It starts off really well and I like the lyrics. But for me the chorus us quite weak, if it had a better chorus it would be excellent but its not. So this means its a quite average song. 3/5
3. Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own - A slow song and possibly my favourite on this album. It really hits a spot deep inside me and I remember going through quite a rough time when this first came out and it helped me through. The words are very powerful and the chorus builds up as Bono belts out the words. A great song. 5/5
4. Love And Peace Or Else - I don't like the intro to this song. And then the music kicks in and it gets better. However it still is a pretty weak song for me. Its just feels like a bit of a filler. Poor effort. 2/5
5. City Of Blinding Lights - This a classic U2 intro that just sounds excellent. The song itself is also pretty good, there is a really nice riff in there that i like and the music is very good. 4/5
6. All Because Of You - Another typical U2 intro then the songs gathers pace and explodes into life. This is another strong song with some good lyrics. Bono really gets into his stride in this one and delivers the vocals perfectly. 4/5
7. A Man And A Woman - This song steps back and slows it all down. I don't like this one and to be honest I usually skip it on the CD. The music just sounds wrong with the words and there is nothing that great about the lyrics. 2/5
8. Crumbs From Your Table - This intro sounds just like some of the earlier songs. To be honest its almost a repeat. The song is OK but as we have already heard a few like this its starting to get a little repetitive. 3/5
9. One Step Closer - Another slow one that really takes a while to get going. When it does it really just kind of bores me, another filler that has nothing really to redeem it. 2/5
10. Original Of The Species - Again quite a slow song. This one is better than the previous song though. Having said that its not amazing and again I feel a little like this a bit more filler. 3/5
11. Yahweh - Much better, they pick up the pace and produce another really good song. The words are really good and get you thinking and I love the chorus. I think this is possibly Bonos best vocal performance on the album. A good song that I really like. 4/5
12. Fast Cars - Something a bit different to finish off. Quite a fast paced song with some strange lyrics. Its good they have tried to put something a little different on there but to be honest its just not that great a song. 3/5
So overall its an album of contrasts. Some classic songs that really show that U2 are still capable of making great music, but there are also some really poor average songs that are not very impressive. Its a shame as this had the potential to be an excellent album. Overall though its good but not great!
"How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb" was the eleventh studio album by U2. This album is probably the best collection of songs since "Achtung Baby" but unfortunately continues the trend of "Zooropa", "Pop" and "All That You Can't Leave Behind" in that there are some outstanding tracks on it but sadly there are one or two which should never have made it to the final album.
The track listing is as follows (UK version, track 12 is a UK bonus track)
1. Vertigo (3:11)
The opening track and the opening single is an upbeat rock song. It has a catchy chorus and comes over well live, although I am not sure it merited opening and closing the tour, every night. 7/10
2. Miracle Drug (3:54)
Classic U2 track, slow build up to a memorable track. A real highlight on the album and a track that a lot of non-U2 fans have asked me what it is when I have played it. (9/10)
3. Sometimes You Can't Make It on Your Own (5:08)
The best song on the album. Full of emotion being based on Bono's relationship with his recently (at the time) deceased father Bob Hewson. It's essentially a ballad and I would rate it in the top 5 tracks U2 have ever done.
4. Love and Peace or Else (4:48)
Initially I wasn't that keen on this track but it became a favourite when I heard it live. It has a heavy bass and drums opening and is a reasonably standard rock song. (7/10)
5. City of Blinding Lights (5:47)
I think the inspiration for this track was the 9/11 disaster in New York and its kind of a U2 anthem there now. Its an excellent track and finishes a strong opening to the album. (10/10)
6. All Because of You (3:34)
I really dislike this track and now seldom listen to it. It's a little shouty and there isn't much in it lyrically. Should not have been on the album in my opinion. (2/10)
7. A Man and a Woman (4:30)
Another poor track, doesn't really go anywhere and seems like an album filler. (3/10)
8. Crumbs from your Table (5:03)
Thankfully a return to form. Based on Bono's charity work the inspiration was the Third World Nations living on the scraps the rest of the world leaves behind. (8/10)
9. One Step Closer (3:48)
Most U2 albums have two out and out ballads and I usually find them both to be among the best tracks the albums. Sadly this track is a real disappointment, it isn't a bad track but can't be compared to other U2 ballads. (5/10)
10. Original of the Species (4:41)
Edge's daughter was the inspiration for this track. Its one of the stronger tracks on the album and even though its just under 5 minutes you feel that it's over too quickly. A really good track that could have been an epic track. (8/10)
11. Yahweh (4:22)
I guess this is the official closing track. Often U2 albums close with a slower heavy track but this one is uplifting and is a good closer. (7/10)
12. Fast Cars (3:44)
A strange track which I think was only recorded on the last day of the recording session. It's a fun track which I don't really view as part of the album but it deserves it place above a few of the others. It's a good bonus track and I can see why it was added in this way rather than as part of the album (6/10).
Overall I really enjoyed this album, only disappointment is the sag in the middle of it. There were other tracks floating around the internet which were up for consideration on this album and one of them (Mercy) is a real quality track. I can't understand how it didn't make it in place of some of the weaker tracks.
Often U2 albums are enjoyed best as one complete collection but in this case it feel it is more a collection of individual tracks rather than being one overall sound. The highlights are real highlights and this album is a welcome addition to the U2 catalogue (8/10).
With the exception to a few ballads, I've never really cared for U2 although I found time to give the new album a spin during a spare hour.
Indeed, there were only two tracks which really stood out on the album, both of which are indeed ballads. Firstly, Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own, which is not only very true, but features Bono at his pinnacle as far as the album goes.
City Of Blinding Lights is the second outstanding track, which has a great keyboard introduction and atmosphere. The track goes onto develop quiet nicely as a more upbeat ballad, with some interesting lyrical work. Also mentioning is the 'obvious single' that is Vertigo, which is a typical radio rocker, and does a good of it too. Overall this hasn't made the world a better, and wile I will always prefer Bon Jovi to U2, this is a far attempt.
Being one of those people that plays a CD to death then moves onto the next best thing it's perhaps unwise of me to purchase more than one CD at a time. U2's "How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb", came in a nice package from Amazon with REM's latest and an Oasis CD A couple of months down the line I remembered that I actually owned U2's latest album and perhaps it was time to annoy the neighbours with something other than nightly doses of Oasis.
Through out Atomic Bomb what you can't fail to notice is the fact U2 are perhaps going back to their musical roots -what you get is an album packed with those classic rock songs that you just know will sound a million times better live in a stadium some place. Yes you get Bono sounding like only Bono can, the Edge knocking out some pure classic guitar rifts but the whole sound of the album has taken a step back -and by no means a bad one at that. The album doesn't skim on production but it's perhaps the back to basic approach to it that makes the album work. Go back and look at how raw their early stuff are and in places on Atomic Bomb you can see how over the years U2 have built on this. The Boys might be older and slightly greyer if you take a look at the photo's on the accompanied booklet but they still know how to belt 'em out with the best of them. Atomic Bomb isn't some arty experimental album it's about getting back to playing pure rock with guitar riffs to die for, Bono belting them out like the pro he is and imagining you're in a stadium someplace singing along! Yes in places it sounds grandiose, but the grittiness that made U2 is still there. The album takes on the usual U2 material of politics, love, spirituality and soul searching and on the whole serves them up well.
Opening with "Vertigo", you just know that the album is going to be good, with it's meaty rhythmic sound, Larry Mullen belting it out on the drums and Bono sounding more like Bono of the 80's and you've just got one hell of a good track, one that inspires you to want to see what else in store for you. This is one hell of a track to open up an album. It's mean and dirty in places, you can just image the band just belting this out in the studio instinctively you know that this wasn't some track that took take after take to get right. It sounds like one of the greatest bands in the world going into the studio and just doing what they do best!
"Miracle Drug", is a bit of a chameleon of a track with the initial opening bars and Bono's vocals you are lulled into this false sense of security that is going to be one of those soft gentle love songs that occasionally U2 do. Within a minute the tempo is upped a notched or two and what you get is one of those classic U2 tracks - with lyrics that you just can't help singing along to. Think "With or Without You", "I still haven't found what I'm looking for" and you might understand what I mean about the ability to sing along with a chorus! Unfortunately it's not one of my favourite tracks on the album, it just lacks that certain something for me.
Being one of those woman that just loves an angst ridden song then of course "Sometimes you can't make it on your own" was going to be a firm favourite of mine - ok perhaps not up with the likes of "With or Without You" - one of the best ever U2 tracks. But you know something it's got all the makings of being a classic U2 track. Mix in Bono sounding a wee bit pained, poignant in only the way Bono can, a soft and gentle opener to the track, a dramatic rise in the tempo and one of those chorus that you just can not fail to sing along. It's pure U2 from start to finish and one track I admit to playing over and over whilst out in the car.
"Love and Peace or Else" is one of those U2 album tracks that you wonder why is this here? The first few bars you think the CD has stuck. Suddenly the feedback fades away and you get Bono sounding in places a touch bored. With it's idealistic lyrics it's typical U2 fodder but it seems to have become lost some where, it lacks that certain something to be honest. One redeeming factor is perhaps the Edge on guitar
U2 redeem themselves with the next track - "City of Blinding Light" in places makes you remember clearly why you bought this album, for the great things the band have done in the past. City of blinding lights has that classic long U2 intro where you do start to wonder if this is an instrumental and then suddenly Bono pops up Again this is no means a classic U2 -I'm sure that millions of us won't remember this in say 10 years time but it has that certain something about it and you just can't help but sing along - live I can image this will be a spectacular song.
"All Because of You" is like entering a time warp, with it's rough and ready sound, think loud think up the amp, give Adam Clayton and The Edge free range and overlay Bono sounding like he's smoked 40 Marlboro minutes before belting out the vocals and you could have another track from circa 1985. It works because it's totally unpretentious and maybe a way of showing that the band might well have done many great things in the two decades they've been on the scene but they haven't forgotten where they came from musically.
"A Man and a Woman" is perhaps that type of song that U2 do best a simple but ever so poignant rock song. With it's acoustic and very simplistic backing track you get a very tender look at how Bono feels about matters of the heart. It works because of its pure simplicity and to be honest is a breath of fresh air at this juncture in the album. If Bono can pull off a song completely it's these simple sounding tracks that give off that poignant heart warming sound.
One thing U2 have never been afraid of expressing their inner spirituality, on Atomic Bomb, we are served up two tracks - "Crumbs from your Table" and "Yahweh". Unfortunately these track even though they are good and we get back into classic sounding U2 territory -sing along choruses, angst sounding Bono and the Edge on great form they will never be up there with " I still haven't found what I'm looking for". perhaps their best known spiritual song. They lack passion and if U2 know something it's how to portray the passion they have to the listening masses
If U2 can do one thing right it's those soul searching tracks. Some bands lack the ability to share poignant moments but U2 have always managed to do it with warmth and a certain degree of tenderness. With "Open Step Closer" Bono shares with us his grief over his Father's death. It's poignant, it's moving and you just want reach out and give him a hug telling him it's gonna be ok you know ...
With it's melodic opening "Original of the Species" is the classic U2 track. You've got all the traits of a U2 track - thought provoking lyrics, Bono filled with passion, the build up from the opening bars and those infamous you just can't help but sing along to choruses. It's pure U2 at their best doing what they do best. If I was to chose a favourite track this would be up there with "Sometimes You Can't Make it On Your Own" and "One Step Closer"
Atomic bomb is by no means the best album that U2 have done -that accolade has to go to The Joshua Tree in my mind, but what you do get is a pretty good range of tracks, you've got the passion, you've got angst, guitar riffs to die for in places, Bono with his come to bed voice and even a touch of Latino in the closing track - Fast Cars. It's U2 doing something they enjoy and for most of the album this shines out clearly.
2. Miracle Drug
3. Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own
4. Love And Peace Or Else
5. City Of Blinding Lights
6. All Because Of You
7. Man And A Woman
8. Crumbs From Your Table
9. One Step Closer
10. Original Of The Species
12. Fast Cars
Ebay £4.99 (Average)
* Introduction *
I must admit that I'm the kind of person who tends to buy a CD, almost on impulse, often having only heard one of the songs from the album, and sometimes not even fully sure if I like it. Well, U2's "how to dismantle an atomic bomb" is possibly the best example of this currently in my CD collection.
I purchased this album a while ago, based on my liking on the immensely popular hit single "Vertigo," only to find that a while after, I was utterly sick of its tendency to be over played on the radio, to the point where I no longer found any enjoyment in listening to it. Luckily for me, the rest of the album was to be nothing like the first single, and every track, much slower, and more enjoyable to listen to. So, despite the manner in which this album was originally purchased, it remains one of the favourite albums in my collection, with the second single "Sometimes you can't make it on your own," with a firm place in my pile of all time favourites, with many other tracks on the album, also coming very close.
So then, U2's latest album probably produced more hype in the general public, than most of the other album releases in that year put together, so naturally I was expecting rather a lot when I purchased it, and this is probably another factor as to why I bought it after having heard only one single. Well, anyway, the album in general is very well presented, a nice looking disc, which is easily identifiable in your collection, along with an attractive inlay, with full lyrical notation. One slight criticism I do have, is the way in which the song listings are presented on the back. I'm not sure why they have decided to list the songs in an almost paragraph format, as it simply makes it harder to view. But hey, not the end of the world
* Track by track analysis *
The album opens fairly strongly with the hit single "Vertigo" which as I have already mentioned, is not one of my favourites on the album to say the least. I am sure many people love this track, and I do feel however that choosing to open the album with "Vertigo" almost provides a false sense of what the album is all about, as all the other tracks follow a totally different style of music. I have to admit that I was a little surprised, and at first disappointed to notice this distinct difference, but after I began to appreciate the slower and more lyrical music a great deal more.
"Vertigo" however, despite my disliking, is a very well constructed and catchy song, which was perfect for securing public interest for their upcoming album. The opening is unmistakeable, with quick drumstick taps, getting stronger, before entering into the well-known countdown, "Unos, dos, tres, catorce " which a lot of people would automatically associate with his song. The song then progresses into the sequence of verse, chorus, which is very effective in maintaining a strong and rhythmic structure throughout the song. My rating on this song is going to be on the overall, genuine quality of the song combined with my own opinions, as just the latter would perhaps not give it all the credit which it probably deserves.
Next up, is "Miracle Drug," perhaps the genuine start of the album, providing us with a more realistic idea of what's to come. The song starts very softly, with light drumming and quiet guitar sounds to accompany it. Bono's voice is used to a much softer effect, which in my opinion is the road U2 ought to continue with, as they do it so much better, and the music is generally much more enjoyable. Again, a very well structured song, and a pleasure to listen to.
The second single to be released from this album is to follow. "Sometimes you can't make it on your own" has to be one of the lyrically perfect songs I have ever heard, and one which can really make you make you feel warm with someone you love, or equally rather depressed without them. I'm sure the name indicated this without the need for an explanation into the meaning of this song, but it is all about being there and caring for someone, "let me take some of the punches for you tonight." The song is truly lovely, and a thoroughly deserved
"Love and peace or else" comes next, and it is possibly one of my personal favourites, at least in terms of good baseline beats on the album, unarguably the best. I just think they could have done a bit more with it. The song does take a while to get into, but when it does, I often can't help tapping my foot the amazing beat, and perfectly aligned lyrics to accompany. Despite this, it does get slightly repetitive in its style, and I do tend to prefer a bit of variation throughout a song, unless it's REALLY good which this isn't. As far as meaning goes, the lyrics express a concern for the need of love and peace in the world, "where is the love " "We need love and peace." This does sound slightly familiar to a Black Eyed Peas' song I seem to recall. Maybe they should take lessons on how to make a good song on the same topic. Go U2.
The third single to come from this album, was "City of blinding lights," and is simply fantastic. It is absolutely full of life, but not so full of life that it's in your face and annoying (which is what I found tended to happen with "Vertigo" after its release.) Bono makes great use of his amazing voice in this song, not just with words. We also hear in this song "ooooooo, oooooooo, ooooooo" as an intro to the main chorus. Bono does this perfectly, and although my strings of o's don't look overly attractive in this review, the effect is truly outstanding within this song. One other thing I love about this song is its simplistic structure, but amazing impact. Just great.
"All because of you" is to follow, and is yet again, more classic U2. The drums and guitars are consistently outstanding, and Bono's fantastic lyrics once again, compliment this perfectly. One thing I will mention is that if you've got your volume up loud, it could give you a bit of a shock as the song opens ;) Not the best song on the album, but nothing to be sniffed at. Yet another great song, maintaining the high quality song that we have learned to expect from these boys.
"A man and a woman" is possibly, the most melodic song on the album, and the one with the most clear-cut meaning. I find that a lot of the time, the meaning of a song is there, but doesn't always completely make sense. The meaning here is clear, not to leave the one you love for the one you like. "I could never take a chance, of losing love to find romance" You really feel that this song has come from the heart, and there is real emotion in the vocals. Fantastic.
"Crumbs from your table" is to follow, and is to be honest, not one of my favourite songs on the album. I don't think the structure is as strong or defined as some of the other songs on the album, and it just doesn't have that edge which makes so many of U2's work so enjoyable. Not a bad song all in all, Bono's lyrics are consistently great, but if there was to be a weak link on the album, then this would be it.
"One step closer" is another song, which I would not normally put down as a song I would typically enjoy. The song opens in a very gentle fashion, with soft guitar sounds, before the addition of some of the most meaningful vocals on the album. This is another song as like "a man and a woman" you can really imagine coming from the Bono's heart. "A heart that hurts, is a heart that beats" A truly moving piece of music.
"Original of the species" is a perfectly placed track. This song is right up there with the best, allowing U2 to keep themselves at their best, all through the album. I find with some albums, that the quality can tend to deteriorate at certain points, but this makes sure that, that certainly will not happen. The lyrics are thought-provoking and emotive. They go from fairly soft and gentle, to much more vibrant in the chorus. This is really a song to give you goose pimples and is rightfully right up there in my favourites pile for this album.
"Yahweh" on first listen sounds like a song that is going to be enjoyable, but I'm afraid as the song progresses, this assumption is hastily taken away. The chorus lacks strength and definition, and although the lyrics are lovely, the overall quality of this song is far from that of this album in general.
To album finishes with "Fast cars," which incorporates a slightly different, almost Latino style into the album. The beat is fast all the way through, which is something we don't see much on this album, but is equally effective and is right up there in quality terms with everything else. A great way to end the album with something that little bit different. Great stuff.
* Summary *
This is overall a fantastically crafted album, showing U2 are genuinely back at their best. For any existing U2 fans, if you haven't yet purchased this, I strongly recommend you do so, and for those wondering whether or not to check this out based on any of the singles, my recommendation remains. You won't be disappointed.
A few extra notes
Record Label: Island Records
© Copyright owned by: Universal International Music BV
Price and Availability:
Online: £9.99 (Amazon.co.uk)
High Street Stores: Around £10
Disc #1 Tracklisting
2 Miracle Drug
3 Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own
4 Love And Peace Or Else
5 City Of Blinding Lights
6 All Because Of You
7 A Man And A Woman
8 Crumbs From Your Table
9 One Step Closer
10 Original Of The Species
12 Fast Cars