Mojo on U2’s Atomic Bomb

Mojo on U2’s Atomic Bomb November 13, 2004

from Mojo:

In defiance of the burdensome weight of their own history and the lifespan of the average rock band, U2 in 2004 are rock’s only remaining superpower.

Other long-lived bands continue to impress, but none come even close to matching U2’s astonishing global commercial dominance in the rock field.

Of the 12 tracks here (the UK and Japanese releases have an additional track, Fast Cars) over half are instant U2 classics and the remainder are never less than very good. ‘…Atomic Bomb’ is almost certain to go down as a landmark rock record for the noughties.

‘Miracle Drug’ will go down as another U2 classic: obliquely referencing what is known as the ‘Lazarus effect’ when apparently dying HIV-positive people are rescued with the use of new medication, the beautiful melody soars heavenwards without ever sounding trite.

When the music turns rather more personal, the rawness of Bono’s recent bereavment on the epic ‘Sometimes You Can’t Make It On Your Own’ makes for a genuine Kleenex moment.

The lifeblood of ‘…Atomic Bomb’ is Bono’s unstinting belief that pop stars can make a difference and that they should use their power for something above and beyond mere personal reward.

From now on it’s hard to see what’s left for U2 other than to continue trying to compete with themselves in a rock world devoid of meaningful competition. No other group can command the enormous cross-gender, cross-generational and cross-ethnic support that U2 do. The last great rock band of the 20th century and the only truly great rock band of the 21st ? You bet.


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6 responses to “Mojo on U2’s Atomic Bomb

  1. Day-Lewis’s character is a holdover from ’60s commune life, watching the ideals and dreams of those years crumble around him. He sees the advance of middle-class American consumer culture encroaching on his idyllic island, and he rages against capitalism and conformity, like Harrison Ford in “The Mosquito Coast.” But his wide-eyed daughter sees the flaws in her father’s philosophies, and the film ultimately ends up as a thorough critique of both the right and the left, the consumer culture and the angry environmentalists. Basically, it shows us that none of us can live in Eden without spoiling it, no matter what cultural evil we stand against. This story gives us nowhere to stand, except in a place of shame and failure and responsibility. The “free love” foundation of the main character’s ideals lead him into the brick wall of moral absolutes, and he comes crashing down. There’s even a moment when this person who has scoffed about other people’s “gods” instinctively calls out to God. What a rare film, that suggests even liberals need to repent. It’s like “American Beauty” without the smugness and self-righteousness. And in the end, even those conservative Americans who were held in such contempt in “American Beauty” are allowed moments of decency.

    What’s even more interesting is the fact that Rebecca Miller made this film about a father-daughter relationship while losing her own father, who, like Day-Lewis’s character, had been through several failed relationships. I cannot read this film without taking that into account. The parallels are intriguing. Is Day-Lewis playing a representation of Arthur Miller?? Whether Rebecca would ever admit it or not, I think, on some level, yes.

  2. I’m just glad to see that Jason Lee is getting his career back on track. He’s always been great in films by Kevin Smith and Cameron Crowe. But with this and The Incredibles, he’s got some good projects. Yay!

  3. Glad to hear this Jeffrey. I am looking forward to your review, and having liked Personal Velocity so much, I have high hopes for this one.

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