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"It's PopMart that stands the test of time to a much greater degree than Zoo TV." — Willie Williams

Despite all of the hype, rockers fail to broaden horizons

Irish Independent
A new lead single from U2, and the same old brouhaha.

The band have done much to talk up their forthcoming 12th studio album, No Line on the Horizon, and if you believe Bono and the Edge, they have rewritten the rulebook, torn up the template and turned the world on the axis.

The reality is a bit more mundane. The first taster from the album, "Get on Your Boots," is unquestionably U2 -- but it's hardly the radically different U2 its members and associates have been promising us.

As usual, with a new U2 track, the first thing you notice is The Edge's guitar. It has always been the primary colour in the U2 spectrum, and that's certainly the case here.

It's meaty, aggressive and as heavy as any guitar part he has written.

It also boasts the sort of riffs to appeal to air-guitar aficionados everywhere.

The song benefits from a thunderous rhythm. It's quite conceivable that Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen swotted up on Led Zeppelin during the recording of the album.

Whatever their preparation, the pair are in fine form with Clayton's bass providing a strong undercurrent and Mullen's drumming giving the song a primal energy.

So far, so good. The lyrics don't stand up to the same sort of scrutiny, however.

In fact, Bono has rarely been on cheesier ground than the following verse which opens the song: "The future needs a big kiss/Winds blow with a twist/ Ever seen a moon like this/Can you see it too?"


Other lines are similarly vague -- and nonsensical: "Night is falling everywhere/Rockets hit the fun fair/Satan loves the bomb scare/But he won't scare you." Quite what the refrain -- "Sexy boots -- get your boots on" -- has to do with images of rockets and the devil is anyone's guess.

Perhaps the band fused two songs together -- as has been their wont in the past. Or maybe, they used the cut-and-paste technique that their long-term producer Brian Eno devised -- with a little help from David Bowie -- in the 1970s.

Either way, lovers of the beautifully penned lyric will have to look elsewhere. Bono's debut column for the New York Times displayed a much better facility with words. But then, the three-and-a-half minute song brings different demands.

This being Bono, he sings his words with conviction.

His urgent delivery suits the song's frantic tempo and in the final third he spits out his words in a staccato rap.

The final part of the song will remind many of their Achtung Baby/Zooropa days -- and it works quite well.

Compared to strong opening tracks from previous albums, "Get On Your Boots" falls some way short.

It isn't in the same league as previous lead singles such as "Vertigo" from How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb, "Discotheque" from Pop, or "New Year's Day" from War.

Still, if the euphoric online response to the song is anything to go by, the "four boys from the northside of Dublin," as Bono put it during Sunday's concert for Barack Obama, should have nothing to fear.

The single will be released as a digital download on February 15. The album is available in Ireland from Friday, February 27.

No Line on the Horizon is their first studio album since November 2004's How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb, and Universal Records' executives will be hoping it can match that album's nine million sales.

(c) Independent, 2009.