The interesting thing about No Line On The Horizon is how the album reflects back to the early days. Not like the way Songs Of Innocence does, but rather in the way I have scored the album. You see, the early few albums had a wide range of songs, from the really good and great to the execrable, but the middle period for the band tightened up considerably, with a great album having nothing weak on it and a poor album (Pop) having nothing great on it. That trend tended to continue all the way until No Line, which went back to the early days by having some great music and some terrible music.
The album begins really well with the title track, which is one of those songs that has grown on me over the years since first hearing it. If not a top tier song, it is certainly in that upper-middle class. It is followed by Magnificent, which by the name tells you it is good, but by listening it does as well. I rate it the same as No Line, but really on a good day I might rate it higher. Another that keeps growing on me as we go. Followed by Moment Of Surrender, yet another fantastic song and a trio that makes really good start to the album.
We take a little dip with Unknown Caller, which I gave a 5 when I rated it, but I also said that I was conflicted, because there are so many days when I dislike it and so many days when I like it a lot. A very dichotomous song to listen to, having written that review back in May I am still thinking that this is the most flip-floppy song of all that I remember. But we’ll leave that thought aside for a moment, because the next song is I’ll Go Crazy If I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight, another great song. It lends itself to the split personality of the album, being one of the songs at the very top of the ratings for the album, and indeed for all-time.
But then we take a slip through the rest of the album. It’s not quite the second half of the album, since it’s songs six through eleven, but close enough. We take a dive down through the likes of Get On Your Boots, Stand Up Comedy, Fez, White As Snow and Cedars Of Lebanon, none of which are good and some of which are pretty poor. This feels like a case of them having half an album and trying to figure out how to fill it up, if the second half had been as good as the first the album would have been their best ever. As it is, hardly anyone outside U2 fans even heard it.
And since you’re a U2 fan, I know you’re reading this and noticing that I left something out. Yes, of course, I didn’t mention Breathe, because it is in the second half of the album, buried in the mire. I rated Breathe the same as Crazy, but that doesn’t make them the same level, not really. While Crazy would be in the top twenty, Breathe is a top ten all-time U2 song for me.
So we can see from this that the album was so widespread, from a couple of the greatest U2 songs ever (believe it or not, there’s only two U2 albums with more top twenty songs than No Line has), to a bunch of weak stuff that may land in the bottom twenty. We might just pretend we didn’t hear some of it while we listen to Breathe again.
My rating for No Line On The Horizon: 5.8 / 10