U2 tries to “shrug off years of staleness” with its 12th album, said Greg Kot in the Chicago Tribune. Coming off two popular but artistically unsurprising releases, U2 on No Line on the Horizon looks to “reconnect with the sense of yearning and mystery that once made it special.” While half of the songs “sound as fresh as anything U2 has done in a decade,” the other half fall prey to predictability.
The album is less a revelation than an effort to “rough up and refine anew their music’s essence,” said Charles Aaron in Spin. The songs are denser, driven by emotion and atmospherics rather than by Bono’s existential lyrics and the band’s swelling anthems.
Still, on the seven-minute epic “Moment of Surrender” and the electro-rocker “Get on Your Boots,” U2 tries to show it’s still the Biggest Band in the World, said Jeff Jensen in Entertainment Weekly. That’s territory they know well. No Line on the Horizon isn’t meant to reinvent U2. Rather, it’s a “record about searching for meaning, but always knowing the way home.”