Magnificent

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It’s already hit #79 in the US, nearly 20 places higher than previous second single “Sometimes”, and deservedly so; there’s more aggression, urgency, intensity and, well, anything else on it. If there is one thing that causes “Magnificent” to not deserve its name, however, it’s that it feels slightly underutilised; it’s not simply “Pride” with added disco beat, but too casual a listen can give that impression. The Moroccan musicians on the track are somewhat pushed to the back, understandable but not desirable. Even so, what the song loses in production it gains in how direct it is, and the solidness of its beat; ironically, it’s more disco than “Discotheque” which, if we’re honest, wasn’t disco at all, more just some crazy not-yet-laden-with-a-buzzword form of rock. And even whilst I criticise it for production, it’s still possible to pick out the keyboards, the delays, and Bono’s most extrovert vocal on the album, which is inevitably what brings comparison to “Pride”.

Lyrically “Magnificent” seems to usher in a short rock opera which runs through “Moment of Surrender” and concludes with “Unknown Caller” (there’s perhaps an argument to be made that it runs through to “Boots”, but that maybe pushes it – and besides, a trilogy is maybe more poetic). There seems to be the early blooming of love (You and I will make a fire) and possibly an addiction (erm, same line) given the similarities to the following song. This would also be backed up by the slightly slumping ending, which leads it into the next track well.

All of this probably sounds like I’m addressing “Magnificent” purely in the context of “Moment”, which it doesn’t really deserve. Yet perhaps this is a key thing about NLOTH overall – it seems to be less definable in terms of individual songs compared to any other 2000s U2 album, and this is a good thing; the album is certainly more cohesive, more unified. But “Magnificent” on its own is still one of the best songs on the album and, by default, one of the best songs to come from U2 in this decade. If Edge’s solo sounds slightly too close to sounding stereotypically Hawaiian, it compensates somewhat with its brevity; always a guitarist who potentially does too little instead of too much, once again he makes such minimalism an asset. It is perhaps unlikely that I’ll add “Magnificent” to my personal list of U2 classics, but nonetheless, it warrants a solid placing in that second tier.

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~ by 4trak on April 27, 2009.

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