“I had driven to the scene of the accident
And I sat there waiting for me”
- From “Unknown Caller”
If America, in its 2009 version of endless-war haze and economic malaise, wanted to sound the notes of regret for what we have become, what would it look like? Would it take the shape of the boundless optimism of a world view that says all can be conquered? Or would it resemble dark brooding of a soul that is reflecting on a life that piled up bad choices upon bad choices until the result was a restless kind of ruin?
Critics and anti-fans can excoriate U2 (and specifically front man Bono) for many things from hubris to self-righteousness, but it would be hard for them to argue against the notion that each new album the band produces reflects the times. Just scan the band’s past five offerings. Achtung Baby (1991) and Zooropa (1993) touched on the postmodern reverb that reflected the hope and crisis of a world without the Berlin Wall. Pop (1997) was the seemingly fruitless search for the real treasure amid consumerism’s trash amid the dotcom boom of the Clinton ’90s. All That You Can’t Leave Behind (2000) was an earnest attempt to refocus on the things that matter, the things you can’t take with you, and was highly relevant in a world that was about to deal with the aftermath of 9/11. How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb (2004) continued that theme against the backdrop of the war on terror, arguing that beauty, love and truth were the tonic for a world gone mad.
In particular, the band’s past two efforts were an attempt to call attention and focus on the stuff that matters in life. The Irish quartet’s latest effort, No Line On The Horizon, is reflection on a world that didn’t listen to that message and an answer to the question that opened this review. (more…)