How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb
Released: November 23, 2004
Charted: December 11, 2004
Peak: 11 US, 13 UK, 11 CN, 11 AU
Sales (in millions): 3.3 US, 1.2 UK, 11.6 world (includes US and UK)
Song Title [time] (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.
Total Running Time: 49:03
4.032 out of 5.00 (average of 32 ratings)
Awards: (Click on award to learn more).
About the Album:
In the 1980s, U2 gradually built their audience from college rock to the culmination of “biggest band in the world” with 1987’s The Joshua Tree. Four years later, the band had another monstrous success with Achtung Baby, a conscious attempt to modernize their sound with dance and electronica elements.
The new millennium found the Irish quartet “returning to the big, earnest sound and sensibility of their classic ‘80s wor.” AMG with All That You Can’t Leave Behind. “It was a confident, cinematic album that played to their strengths, winning back the allegiance of wary fans and critics” AMG who’d somewhat soured from 1993’s Zooropa and the “rocktronica fusion” AMG 1997’s Pop.
U2’s follow-up, How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb, continued to “erase their wild flirtation with dance clubs and postmodernism so they can return to the time they were the social conscience of rock music. Gone are the heavy dance beats, gone are the multiple synthesizers, gone are the dense soundscapes that marked their ‘90s albums.” AMG Instead, there is “a clean, sharp production, gilded in guitars and anchored with straight-ahead, unhurried rhythms.” AMG This is “U2 at their simplest, playing direct, straight-ahead rock with little subtlety and shading in the production, performance, or lyrics.” AMG
That can evoke criticism that the band are “scaling back their sound so far that they have shed the murky sense of mystery that gave The Unforgettable Fire and The Joshua Tree an otherworldly allure.” AMG The album “feels too constrained and calculated, too concerned with finding purpose in the past instead of bravely heading into the future.” AMG
Still, “the stark production can also be an advantage, since the band still sounds large and powerful. U2 still are expert craftsmen, capable of creating records with huge melodic and sonic hooks.” AMG There are “songs as reassuring as the slyly soulful Sometimes You Can't Make It on Your Own and the soaring City of Blinding Lights, or the pile-driving All Because of You.” AMG
Notes: “Fast Cars” was added as a bonus track in UK, Ireland, and Japan.
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First posted 2/22/2009; last updated 5/1/2022.