So I just listened to the new single from U2, called “Get On Your Boots.” It’s from their upcoming album, No Line on the Horizon. And it’s, um, different.
I have stopped trying to build up expectations for a U2 album ever since Achtung Baby disappointed me. (I was expecting The Joshua Tree II, and while I have grown to tolerate the album, it took a while.) And while I was glad to hear the old sound return during the last two albums, they were also tired-sounding – as if they were trying too hard to return to their roots. There were little moments of true Zen-like U2.
The band must have thought so, too, for they have stepped out of the box again to reinvent themselves. Neil McCormick of The Telegraph gives this sneak peek of the album:
It is dense, twisty, shiny, modern pop music, a big mash up of Eno ambience, Edge electricity, rhythm and soul. There are verses and choruses, though not necessarily in that order (and quite often its hard to tell which is which). It doesn’t feel the need to hit you over the head, but has the Ninja confidence to sneak up and take you unawares…It could be the glittering sonic mind meld of pop rock and soul that Zooropa wanted to be.
Bono has also described No Line on the Horizon as “the album U2 always wanted to make.” Don’t know why it took them 28 years to do that, and who was forcing them to make other albums. But given Bono’s ever-increasing presence and ego, I approached the new song with some trepidation.
And there are some surprises. It begins with a rawkin’ Edge guitar riff that does sound like it’s from Achtung, but then it gives way to the tacky electronic drums apparent in Zooropa and Pop. Bono sings the verses in a monotone howl reminiscent of “Elevation.” For some reason, I’m also conjuring up The Escape Club’s “Wild Wild West” as well. But the biggest surprise is – gasp! – harmonies! They may have had a few harmonies on some previous songs, but it was never a big deal. The chorus to “Get on your Boots,” though, sounds like some planning was actually done. That’s not to say it’s good; it’s just different.
The rest of the song doesn’t leave much of an impression except pomposity. We hear lots of Bono, a few moans. Lots of overproduction. You know, I don’t mind different. But there’s just not much singing going on here. I’ve listened to it three times now, and I’m already tired of it. Here’s hoping the rest of the album will be different in a good way.