How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb


Interscope Records, 2004

REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray


Unlike Mr. Christopher Thelen, I will be a Lions fan until I die, while he roots for the Bears. We both hope our football teams will see the playoffs again someday.

Also, unlike Chris, I'm a big U2 fan, the sort who has every CD except the first two and drooled when they played the Superbowl in 2002. I even have a poster and the Rattle And Hum video.

Therefore, I wanted to give everyone a U2 fan's perspective on the band's 11th studio album, instead of the unbiased review written by my esteemed colleague. This album will mean something different to a casual or hardcore U2 fan, and that's different than what it means to the average listener. So, if you are a U2 fan, or want to be, read on.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

This CD is not a return to anything, like its predecessor All That You Can't Leave Behind was. This is U2 Mark 3 continued, simply because the band is done experimenting and pushing boundaries. They are simply happy to lay back and try to change the world slowly (which is a stretch for any other band except these guys, for whom being the world's biggest band still living is everyday life.)

That said, there are no flourishes here. No drum machines, no sweeping anthems, nothing to set this apart or make it stand out among listeners. It is simply an affirmation of everything U2 has done right so far and shows the band can age gracefully while still making music that matters. If you liked any U2 album in the past, you will enjoy this one. If you never liked or tried a U2 album, this is not the best place to start, because it's one that has to be appreciated, not listened to and then discarded like All That You Can't Leave Behind.

The funny thing is that U2 doesn't have to try to make good music - it comes naturally. "Vertigo" is unlike anything the band has done sonically, but it's a lot of fun, their answer to the Hives/White Stripes of the world. "Miracle Drug" and "Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own" harken back to REM's middle period and The Joshua Tree, while "Love and Peace or Else" sums up the Zooropa album in a laid-back manner.

Bono is a better singer than ever, although his lyrics are a little less world-saving and more personal, as they have been since Achtung Baby. This comes into play on the achingly beautiful "A Man and a Woman," with a cool bassline and poignant lyrics. "All Because of You" is a great car song with spiritual or romantic lyrics, depending on how you interpret it, while "Yahweh" is one of the most moving and intense songs the band has written.

The album veers off track near the end, which is not surprising -- the band can't write a brilliant album from beginning to end, only ones with enough jaw-dropping individual moments to make the listener forgive the weaker tracks -- but the first half and "Yahweh" make this worth buying. U2 is no longer trying to change the world; they are trying to understand it, which may be better.

Rating: B+

User Rating: D+



© 2004 Benjamin Ray and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Interscope Records, and is used for informational purposes only.