I must admit though, that even after listening to it for a week, I am unimpressed.
U2 is a band well known for changing their style and sounds, whilst still retaining their soul. Albums such as Rattle and Hum, Pop and All That You Can't Leave Behind have helped to define the current music scene. However albums such as Zooropa, How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb (and now, dare I say it, NLotH) have not.
Perhaps U2's unpredictability has become too predictable? Perhaps Bono has lost his edge? Maybe Brian Eno wanted to get his moneys worth from his new echo machine? Maybe it's just that I have become out of touch? Who knows...
I guess that I have always enjoyed U2 for their clear lyrics (albeit difficult to understand) and strong guitar riffs. I've always thought that U2 was trying to say something (not necessarily something specific, although usually political or religious) through their music. It's as if the band knew what they wanted to say, and they used both words and music to convey their ideas and philosophies. ATYCLB was a classic example of this.
NLotH is definitely trying to say something, but it seems that the message is confused and hazy. It's more like U2 has stopped using a megaphone and is now transmitting via radio. A radio with poor connections and too much static. Has U2 become just another background noise?
Or maybe U2 is following the lead of REM. REM had a nice little album - Around the Sun, which was calm and introspective, and forgettable. Then REM released Accelerate, a more up-tempo album that returned to their rock roots. Is U2 returning to their rock roots with this album? I don't think so. In fact I don't know where U2 is going with this album...
(Of course it is also possible that I'm just annoyed because iTunes won't let me download the Cover Art...)