Album Of The Year 2004

17th January 2005 · Last updated: 5th October 2016


  1. My Second Contender
  2. Other Albums
  3. Unheard Contenders
  4. Singles Of The Year

U2 Album CoverU2 - How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb

When I first heard this album, I quite liked it, but wasn't sure about the comments on this page from

"SUPERB!!! Definitely worth the wait, much more like the earlier stuff they did, so good I think it could rival the Joshua Tree album which is in my opinion the best album ever released."

"This album rocks...U2's 3rd masterpiece now...behind Achtung Baby and Joshua Tree."

But now I am inclined to agree. I don't think it rivals The Joshua Tree, and let's not forget how brilliant Zooropa was. Yet this is clearly a major U2 album - a definite classic.

Every track sounds like a potential hit single. Each time I listen I hear new things in the mix. While it's definitely a commercial album, it's not straight pop, the verse-chorus formula of the Charts. U2 are better than that. Take the opening track (their first single) Vertigo. It has so many changes and different parts to it that this will still sound great in years to come.

The second single, Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own, grows and grows on you, until you have to concede that it really is an amazing piece of music. Again there are more sections to it than you can remember easily. I just adore the guitar break and the atmospheric two-note section at the end. This is sweet perfection.

I would have to say this album is typical U2. There are the standard elements here - Bono's great voice, The Edge's chilling guitar-sound, the drums and bass always in perfect harmony. And yet U2 have introduced subtle new elements that I feel add immeasurably to the overall sound. There are echoes of Mexican styles, 60's Soul, Country and other styles I have yet to pick up on.

My favourite track is an example of the mixed musical genres on display. Quite unlike anything they've done before, yet still within the realm of their recognisable sound. A Man And A Woman is a standout piece. The funky bassline and guitars have me picturing Bono stood on a Brazilian street-corner, crooning to a woman he loves nearby. It contains my favourite part of the whole album - a simple section where everything stops except for the vocals, bassline and a dusting of drum machine effects in the background. It's proof that this album cannot be said to be over-produced. A magic moment I look forward to every time I play the CD.

Then there's Miracle Drug - a noisy, electric storm of a track that simply blows me away. Original Of The Species is the one I get stuck in my head for days - the opening piano riff is captivating, like a child's tune.

I wondered why the album reminded me of early U2. Then I looked at the credits and realised why. It was produced by Steve Lillywhite, who the band worked with on their first few albums. Additional production also comes from Chris Thomas, Jacknife Lee, Nellee Hooper, Flood, Daniel Lanois, Brian Eno and Carl Glanville. These guys only work with the best. The production is coherent and never less than exciting. It's not super-smooth either - several tracks end with studio noise and hiss.

This is a band that can seemingly do no wrong. They've yet to release a truly bad album. They keep changing style, going electronic, then back to raw rock. Yet one element always remains - fantastic songwriting. And so this simply had to be my Album Of The Year 2004.

My Second Contender

For a long time, another album was my favourite for sure. A complete contrast to U2, it misses out on the Number 1 slot by a whisker. I still feel it is an incredible masterpiece, what a way to depart. For it was to be Orbital's last ever release, named simply Blue Album.

I guess you'd file it under "Dance", but really it is much more. The opening piece Transient has classical orchestration in the style of Philip Glass. The way it builds up is incredible. Sadly it just seems to stop, almost as if the sequencer ran out of notes. In fact, I wish they had merged all the tracks on this album like they normally do, which would have made it even more exciting.

The first few tracks made me want to check I hadn't put an 80's Tangerine Dream CD in the player, the sounds and rhythms were so close. I wonder if younger listeners won't spot the similarity!

Two tracks I'd definitely class as 'muzak' (elevator music), only it's the best muzak you've ever heard. Funky and catchy. Completely irresistable.

My only dislike is the throwaway duet with Sparks. It should have been made a b-side.

Like U2, Orbital excel at quality and consistency. Lengthy tracks are no problem for them, extended musical segments the norm. And so each track on this album builds up, taking you higher and higher. The last track One Perfect Sunrise is a change of style, being a more chart-oriented Goa-style dance song, complete with evocative female vocals. It reminds me of their classic live performances at Glastonbury - you can almost see the crowd and the sun setting, amazing energy in the air. One part of this song cools down to just a low, oozing bass synth, which swirls in classic live Orbital style. It's so powerful. They are a testiment to the sheer power of music itself. They will be sadly missed.

Other Albums

These are some of the other albums that I liked from 2004 (in no order). Each is well worth owning and replaying.

  • Courtney Love - America's Sweetheart
  • Marillion - Marbles
  • Alanis Morissette - So-Called Chaos
  • Goldie Lookin Chain - Greatest Hits
  • The Blue Nile - High
  • Prince - Musicology
  • The Streets - A Grand Don't Come For Free
  • Jay-Z/Linkin Park - Collision Course

Unheard Contenders

I'd like to have included these, but I haven't heard them! They sound good though, judging by the singles.

  • Franz Ferdinand - Franz Ferdinand
  • Gwen Stefani - Love Angel Music Baby
  • Scissor Sisters - Scissor Sisters
  • The Cure - The Cure

Singles Of The Year

Always a hard list to compile. Here are the only definite choices for me:

  1. The Streets - Dry Your Eyes
  2. Green Day - American Idiot
  3. The Streets - Blinded By The Lights

Comments (3)

Comments are locked on this topic. Thanks to everyone who posted a comment.

  1. Ev:
    U2? You're mad. ;-)

    Ash "Meltdown"
    Beastie Boys "To The 5 Boroughs"
    Brian Wilson "Smile"
    Interpol "Antics"
    The Killers "Hot Fuss"
    Franz Ferdinand "Franz Ferdinand"...

    They all make "How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb" look mighty boring to me!

    Posted on 18 January 2005 at 8:56 am
  2. Campbellini:
    The U2 album is good, don't get me wrong but what about

    1) Ash - Meltdown
    2) Breed 77 - Cultora
    3) Papa Roach - Getting Away With Murder
    4) Rammstein - Reise Reise
    5) Kittie - Until The End
    6) Within Temptation - Mother Earth

    These are far superior to the U2 album and all the ones you mention.

    Posted on 28 January 2005 at 9:49 am
  3. Chris Hester:
    Ah, but I haven't heard any of them. That's why they're missing from my list!

    Posted on 28 January 2005 at 9:56 am