What do you do after being a band for 30 years? How does anyone even survive being in a band for that long? U2's studio workflow has evolved into a slow process of addition and subtraction over the years, seemingly tedious, but also somehow giving all members a chance to contribute, edit and work out many possible ideas. Initial sessions with Rick Rubin generated The Skids' cover with Green Day and a new track on the U218 collection, but when he apparently pleaded with the band to come to the studio with worked up material for an album they didn't oblige and moved on. Grabbing old pals Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois to co-produce (notably without U2, just each other) and co-write might have been the smart move here, along with a slight return of Steve Lillywhite producing two songs (one with will.i.am). No Line... is possibly one of my favorite U2 albums in some time, and I'm not even sure why. There seem to be more musical ideas explored, like Eno's layered unison choruses (re: Talking Heads) and at least several sections that evince Lanois' way with melody and restraint - see "Cedars of Lebanon". There's always that anthemic rush that U2 do so well that seems to hook me - see "Magnificent" and "Breathe". But more than anything it might be that Bono is pushing his singing further than on recent releases, maybe from the freedom of having written from the view of several characters. And like many U2 records, the best songs are hidden behind the singles and obvious tracks - see "White as Snow" with its folkish feel and French horn. The credits on this album read like a goddamn movie though. Engineers include Richard Rainey, Declan Gaffney, C.J Eiriksson, Carl Glanville, Tony Mangurian, Florian Ammon and Dave Emery. And mixers include Steve, Declan, CJ, Carl, Richard and Daniel, as well as the fabulous Cenzo Townshend. Studios include their own HQ in Dublin, Platinum Sound in NYC and the famed Olympic in London. Mastering by John Davis at Metropolis in London. (www.u2.com) -LC

Tape Op is a bi-monthly magazine devoted to the art of record making.

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