Much in the manner of their previous album, ALL THAT YOU CAN'T LEAVE BEHIND, U2 largely strips down the stadium-sized approach of years past on the provocatively titled HOW TO DISMANTLE AN ATOMIC BOMB. Whether they were inspired by the garage-rock revival that took place in between the two records, or just felt like making some visceral rock & roll, this 2004 release has as much unbridled energy as such early U2 benchmarks as BOY or WAR. The album starts with a bang, courtesy of the charging, angular "Vertigo," whose driving bass line and shouted vocals announce the band's intentions in no uncertain terms.
The bluesy "Love and Peace or Else," and the fuzz-guitar-fueled "All Because of You" follow suit in a similarly high-energy manner. That's not to say that this is a mere rockfest from start to finish, though. There are an equal number of reflective, mid-tempo tunes whose direct emotional impact recalls the more elegiac tracks on OCTOBER, giving the whole album a dynamic depth of field. Whether rocking like madmen or getting in touch with their inner selves, though, the band sounds totally committed throughout ATOMIC BOMB, which has always been the first requirement for a great U2 album.
Rolling Stone (p.172) - 4 stars out of 5 - "This is grandiose music from grandiose men, sweatlessly confident in the execution of their duties."
Rolling Stone (pp.152-3) - Included in Rolling Stone's Top 50 Records Of 2004 - "U2 soar to adult glory with a guitar-driven vigor that hearkens back to 1980's BOY..."
Spin (p.64) - Ranked #29 in Spin's "40 Best Albums of the Year" - "An '80s rock band making a great 11th album."
Entertainment Weekly (pp.115-16) - "'Crumbs From Your Table' is the type of glorious gallop this band can write in its pub nap, but no one does it better." - Grade: B
Uncut (p.136) - "[I]t's their most unabashedly strident record since THE UNFORGETTABLE FIRE....Though the band rattle and strum with their old '80s vigour, the lines that stay with you speak of a creeping malaise."
Uncut (p.76) - Ranked #35 in Uncut's "Best New Albums of 2004" - "[A] brilliantly expansive album and their best since ACHTUNG BABY."
Mojo (Publisher) (p.60) - Ranked #17 in Mojo's "The 50 Best Albums Of 2005" - "HTDAAB harmonised post-punk U2 and the modern, humanistic concerns of Bono Inc..."
Mojo (Publisher) (p.96) - 4 stars out of 5 - "[T]hey continue to pioneer a new future for rock music....What is clear is that there's a new maturity to Bono's lyrics."