Metascore
79

Generally favorable reviews - based on 26 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 21 out of 26
  2. Negative: 0 out of 26
  1. The record does sound good when it's playing, but [its] conservatism is what keeps HTDAAB earthbound and prevents it from standing alongside War, The Joshua Tree and Achtung Baby as one of the group's finest efforts.
  2. The sound is bigger, the playing better, the lyrics sharper and the spirituality more compelling than anything the act has done in many years.
  3. 80
    It nearly always feels fresh, the way a new flame does. [Dec 2004, p.132]
  4. Compared to All That You Can’t Leave Behind, it’s immensely sincere, well-thought out, and meaningful... [It] also happens to be loaded with hooks.
  5. While the rest of the album fails to live up to the breadth of “City” and “Crumbs,” and while it takes serious missteps on the shockingly bad “Man and a Woman” and “Yahweh,” this is, by and large, an album to be thankful for, regardless of your demographic.
  6. Mostly this is U2 trying too hard, caring too much, being too insufferably genuine without having anything to be particularly genuine about.
  7. Suffers from too much open-faced honesty and a serious lack of intensity.
  8. Simply, it’s back to what it was all about in the first place; writing cracking tunes and just being boys in a band.
  9. 100
    A slower album than most, Bomb eventually reveals itself as a work of genius, wrapping religion, love and life into emotionally thrilling gifts.
  10. From the arrangements to the inevitable crashing-wave crescendos, echoes of "I Will Follow" and "New Year's Day" rumble through the songs. [26 Nov 2004, p.115]
  11. 82
    So here we have another U2 album that's just as good as the last one. In fact, it's really good. [#13, p.88]
  12. [Bono] explores epic themes, from faith to family, with such indelible grace that the CD stands with "The Joshua Tree" and "Achtung Baby" as one of the Irish quartet's essential works. [21 Nov 2004]
  13. 80
    This is a very traditional U2 album, the sort of album people want U2 to make. [Dec 2004, p.96]
  14. Bono's genius is that his inner monologue is so huge and heroic that it matches the scale of the music. And, even more so than on 'All That You Can't Leave Behind,' the music is enormous. [13 Nov 2004, p.55]
  15. Unabashedly grand and inspirational.
  16. Brash, grungy, and loud... a tiny handful of outstanding tracks and a whole mess of schmaltzy filler.
  17. It's neither aggressive nor retro, and U2 sounds better for moving forward, even if they seem increasingly diluted in delivery at times.
  18. With their 11th studio album, they've succeeded in not becoming crap quite admirably. [Dec 2004, p.126]
  19. This is grandiose music from grandiose men, sweatlessly confident in the execution of their duties.
  20. Atomic Bomb is a reduction of U2's most definable characteristics into a very basic formula: impassioned vocals lent extra gravity by Bono's wavering voice; guitars that chime like bells; thick, meaty rhythm section workouts; slowly seductive hooks that build to triumphant, emotional, endorphin-releasing choruses. And on that level, it succeeds admirably.
  21. A one-paced affair, enamoured with drawn-out ambient intros, crystalline guitars layered with reverb, four-note rumbles for basslines, choruses that go on forever and occasional, half-hearted stabs at “groove”. Meaning that it sounds EXACTLY as you would expect U2 to sound.
  22. Yet in spite of the odds, How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb finds U2 sounding just as passionate as it did on 1980's Boy, and just as committed to converting that passion into sprawling pop songs about God, love, and the world's injustices.
  23. How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb may be unadventurous and melodramatic, but it is packed with disarming moments.
  24. The harder U2 tries to rock out with wild abandon here, the less spontaneous they end up sounding, making How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb more like an incredible simulation of a punk-influenced album rather than an actual punk-influenced album.
  25. 80
    Even at their most glibly bombastic, there's a melancholy undertow that they can't shake. [Album of the Month, Dec 2004, p.136]
  26. This time, Steve Lillywhite and the other producers assembled simply construct a U2 album in miniature, mixing in the Edge's processed-guitar trademark whenever you fear they're straying into unforgivable un-U2ness. That's just not enough.
User Score
7.0

Generally favorable reviews- based on 362 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 66 out of 240
  1. ZackD
    Sep 27, 2005
    10
    I will offer my thoughts: If, by chance, you gave this album a 0 or a 1, I read your review. I am astonished by how so many people could miss I will offer my thoughts: If, by chance, you gave this album a 0 or a 1, I read your review. I am astonished by how so many people could miss the point. I don't know where so many of you got this crap about "selling out" and being in it for the money. If U2 wanted to sell out, they would certainly be making a lot more than they are right now. Do you realize that they didn't accept money for the iPod spot? Performances at awards ceremonies don't mean you are a sellout. If this album was produced for the sheer goal of making more money for the members of U2, they wouldn't have spend 5 years crafting it. They could release crappy albums every year and a half if they wanted and they'd make more money. Instead they put time and effort into what I believe stands as one of their greatest achievements. No, maybe not a Joshua Tree or an Achtung Baby, but certainly third on my list. Its track listing begins by painting a scene of fear and helplessness. The singer finds himself in this dizzying place called vertigo, scared, alone. He is captivated by a cross around a girl's neck. Tracks 2, 3, and 4 show hope for the miracle science we do not have yet, meditation over dead loved ones, and pleading for peace in a world gone wrong, respectively. The album soon begins to find the positive aspects of life in love, family, contentedness, and, finally, God. While the beginning presents this problem, this "atomic bomb," representative of the worst of humanity's fears, the end of the album presents the solution: love. One must kneel before love and they will find comfort and hope. The music itself is perhaps not sonically as revolutionary a departure from the previous album as most U2 fans are used to, admittedly. But this doesn't take the album down at all. I simply think it is on the same sonic plane without repeating the same sounds. Overall, my favorite album of 2004/2005 easily. Full Review »
  2. AristonB
    Sep 21, 2009
    3
    The worst album of U2. They could tour without this crap. Maybe 3 songs worth listening. New low.
  3. tylerk
    Jun 24, 2008
    4
    Marginal. U2 used to have a distinct sound. This blends nicely with the proliferation of mediocrity on the radio. Possibly the weakest lyrics Marginal. U2 used to have a distinct sound. This blends nicely with the proliferation of mediocrity on the radio. Possibly the weakest lyrics on any U2 record, "I'll give you everything that you want..except the thing that you want" Everything after zooropa has been marginal at best. Full Review »