I have been repeatedly listening to the first eight tracks of U2’s new album, How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb, and I find that it is very similar to the other U2 albums with which I am familiar, which are in effect not many, as I don’t tend to think of myself as a U2 fan.
It has a very distinctive U2ish sound, in that it sounds just exactly like a U2 album, in that way that only a U2 album can. In fact, the whole feel of those first eight tracks is that they are more-or-less the same U2 songs that we have been listening to over all these years.
This leads me to believe that U2 have not developed very much since they released The Joshua Tree, which was the last U2 album that I paid a more-than-average amount of attention to. The reason for this general inattention is that I don’t really consider myself a U2 fan, and this state of nonfannishness came about for two reasons:
- My uncle told me that U2 gave money to the IRA. On reflection I feel that this is perhaps libellous, after all they do so many good works, surely that would very much conflict with their stated political stance? He said this a long time ago, but it caused me long-lasting confusion.
- Even once I decided that the IRA claim was complete rubbish, I still found that U2 came across as the Right Kind of Irish, and I remain the Wrong Kind of Irish, and sometimes that makes me feel a little bit excluded from Right Kind of Irishness. It’s quite hard to admit that, because I realise that it amounts to a sort of cultural intolerance on my part, and I feel bad about it.
- Most of their music didn’t really move me. On the whole I prefer music that moves me to ornery background music, although I will accept that there is a place for ornery background music.
So, having agreed that the music hasn’t changed in any significant way, I find myself pleasantly surprised to be enjoying the first eight tracks of How To Dismantle an Atomic Bomb much more than I was enjoying The Libertines earlier in the week, and that seems as good a scale as any, despite the usual Uborka tendency to develop complex scoring systems in order to ground our opinions in science.
I conclude that How To Dismantle an Atomic Bomb is not a better U2 album, as it does not demonstrate much noticeable musical development; however I have enjoyed it more than any other [i.e. more than The Joshua Tree and various random singles and snippets of other albums], and therefore, although U2 may not have developed since 1987, I have.