Disarming Words

This year sees a quarter century of U2 records and the band'

This year sees a quarter century of U2 records and the band’s induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. However well deserved, it seems a premature designation. Such accolades are usually heaped on the formerly great, the long disbanded, or the now irrelevant. U2 shatters these notions from the first notes of the band’s latest album, How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb.

This Atomic Bomb begins with an explosive reverberation of driving bass, slamming drums, and guitar poised for attack. "Vertigo" is the album’s opener; it’s an aggressive beginning that compresses an LP’s worth of intensity into three minutes. It might be the most compact piece of musical dynamite that U2 has yet produced.

Longtime listeners will recognize moments in "Vertigo" - The Edge’s uniquely keening guitar, Bono’s vocal inflection - that recall their debut, Boy. There are threads of continuity here; producer Steve Lillywhite, who worked with U2 on its first three albums, is back for this one. But this isn’t an exercise in nostalgia. Twenty-five years ago U2 was a baby band searching for its sound, a lead singer discovering his voice. Atomic Bomb resonates with the confidence of four men who’ve played music together for more than half their lives, but who have found a way to recapture a youthful energy.

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Sojourners Magazine March 2005
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