U2 – “How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb”

U2’s twelfth official studio album is a collection of solid rock songs. “How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb” begins with “Vertigo,” which hits the listener on the side of the head. From then on, guitarist The Edge takes center stage. “Love and Peace or Else,” one of my favorites, begins with simple guitar distortion and builds to a raucous track. You can literally hear the emotion seeping through in “Miracle Drug” and “Sometimes You Can’t Make it on Your Own” (a song Bono wrote about his late father). Perhaps it’s the emotion that makes this CD so enjoyable. You believe that the band is thoroughly invested in each and every song. The album fits together well, even more so than 2000’s “All That You Can’t Leave Behind.”

I do have one significant complaint: It seems U2 has completely abandoned their adventurous side and said good-bye to the experimentalism that permeated their music in the ’90s.

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In a lot of ways, I miss this, but then, I never knew what to expect next, whether it would be dance, rock or hip-hop beats.

The new album, however, is good at what it does. Those who don’t like the electronic-infused U2 of the last decade will be pleased. The album has some of the band’s most rock-driven songs ever; this CD is loud, as the title suggests. That’s not to say that there are no softer, more reflective songs. “One Step Closer” is a perfect example of this more tranquil mood, but it is not the focus of the disc. This is enhanced by the incredible production. Every note is vibrant. The album sounds really good.

I could have done without “A Man and a Woman,” but other than that track, the disc holds together pretty well. It is also extremely accessible. If you’ve never heard U2 (Is that possible?), this CD is a good place to start.

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