Tuesday, May 6, 2008

iPod Project: Reconsidering How To Dismantle an Atomic Bomb

So I've kinda put the iPod Project on hold over the last couple of weeks. I'll get back to it soon, but I wanted to spend some time acquainting myself with The National before the REM concert in Vancouver in two weeks. And I wanted to spend some time with the new Madonna album (which has gradually grown on me -- but it's not as good as Confessions on a Dancefloor).

I've also been spending some time with a couple of old favorites. I recently saw Young@Heart (more on that soon), and that's made me want to listen to Coldplay's X&Y. (Plus, their imminent new album has gotten me in a Coldplay state of mind.) I also finally had the chance to see U2 3D a few weeks back (ten-second judgment: great filmmaking, ok set list that would have been better if it had been the full-length concert).

But seeing U2 3D has led me to revisit U2's last album, How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb. I was hard on it when it first came out, and I still don't think it stands up to their best work... but it's got more highlights than I initially gave it credit for.

I really like "Vertigo" -- it's a great way to start the album, and it's got one of the greatest riffs The Edge has ever come up with. I don't like "Miracle Drug", and "Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own" is a great bridge in search of a worthy song. "Love and Peace Or Else" is a song I made fun of for the longest time, and I think it's still a bit of a mess, but it is better than I first gave it credit for.

Things pick up with "City of Blinding Lights", one of those big sweeping "Streets"-like epics that keep me coming back. "All Because of You" is a lot of fun, even if Bono cribbed the "choice"/"voice" couplet from Leonard Cohen and that he's likely singing about God, not a woman.

I still hate "A Man and a Woman". "Crumbs From Your Table" is ok, but I still hate the line "Where you live should not decide whether you live or whether you die". "One Step Closer" is just kinda... there. It doesn't really build to anything. It's a bit of a shrug.

And then: "Original of the Species". This is the best song on the album, period. One of my favorite Bono lines ever is "I want the light of what you got, and I want nothing that you're not." My favorite moment on the album is this song's bridge - Bono has no words for his joy, and all he can come up with is a string of "doo"s. (It must be something special if BONO of all people is speechless.) The album proper closes with "Yahweh", which I find profoundly humanistic, even if it's a conversation between Bono and God. (Some copies of the album, including mine, have a bonus track: "Fast Cars", which in an earlier incarnation was "Xanax and Wine", and it's a fun track.)

So, long story short (too late), time has been kind to How To Dismantle an Atomic Bomb. And I can't wait to hear what they come up with for their new album, due out by the end of the year.


Anonymous said...

Your favorite lyric in Original of the Species is actually "I want the lot of what you got".

Randy said...

Wow, so it is. Almost four years later, and I get the lyric right. The real lyric actually makes a bit more sense, but I like my misheard version better.