Larry should be pretty happy with the new U2 album. After recording Pop in 1997—a thoughtful, tongue-in-cheek disco-techno experiment followed by a now infamously extravagant tour—Larry Mullen Jr., U2's drummer, quipped that the next time they make an album it should have some real pop songs on it. That next time was All That You Can't Leave Behind (2000), a much more accessible album for the masses and a huge commercial success. In their follow-up, How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb, with enough up-beat songs and a few crooning ballads to bend the world's ear, U2 reminds us they are still a contender for the title "best band in the world."

How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb sounds both old and new and seems to intentionally rely on something tried and true. This is pure U2. Warm, quick-pumping hearts, creative minds at play, shrewd timing, and a loud Christian conscience. The world tour, starting next March, will surely fill stadiums.

This album's forty-minutes includes songs that, in classic U2 fashion, will bring you to your feet. Others will make you melt with lead guitarist The Edge's high-flying riffs. It's almost too much to take, and excess, as U2 fans know, is also a part of their history. Many fans will find themselves stuck with this frustration: there's not much new on this album, but they can't stop playing it. No matter that most songs sound made-for-the-big-screen, ready to drop into any autumnal Miramax film. We love that about U2, though we're reluctant to say so.

You will like Bomb either because you used to like U2 (that is, the 1980s U2), or you have always liked U2 (especially because they didn't stay "the 80s U2") or because you just heard about a band called U2 via an Apple iPod commercial during ...

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