10th Album: A Beautiful Day For Us All

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USA Today, October 30, 2000

10th Album: A Beautiful Day For Us All

by Edna Gundersen

All That You Can't Leave Behind is all that you can ask of great rock music. Simultaneously classic and contemporary, U2's 10th studio album exudes warmth, vitality and passion in 11 beautifully crafted songs that recall the Irish quartet's unfussy roots.

But this is no lazy throwback. Thrilling excesses of the '90s -- Achtung Baby's chilly industrial-strength techno, Zooropa's infectious affluenza attack, Pop's club-culture kicks -- have been distilled into smart accents and muted afterthoughts. Simplicity and soul are the forces steering All That 's sublime sonics.

Each instantly hummable track is a melodic marvel of glorious clarity, complementing Bono's openhearted vocals and his most exquisitely hewn lyrics to date.

Poetic but not preachy, direct yet evocative, his words suggest rich pictures and raw emotions without a single syllable of flab.

Imbued with arena-ready drama, Bono's liquid falsetto and gritty baritone convey the humble yearning and lucid emotion of an Everyman, not a messiah.

Nearly every song is a potential single, raising hopes that U2 can restore rock's presence on radio. The euphoric Beautiful Day is breathing fresh air into playlists choking on synthetic pop and seething rap-rock.

Similar highfliers are stacked along the runway: funk-rocking Elevation, acoustic Wild Honey, hip-hopped and gospelized In a Little While, R&B-soaked Stuck in a Moment You Can't Get Out Of and streetwise New York.

Produced with admirable restraint by mood gurus Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois, All That homes in on the joy and excitement of flesh-and-blood musicians playing tangible instruments without special-effects squads and push-button gizmos.

Bono's soothing wail, The Edge's hypnotic guitar signatures, and the lock-step, molten-groove rhythms of bassist Adam Clayton and drummer Larry Mullen have, like nature itself, an inexplicable synchronicity and organic grace that can't be genetically engineered.

Copyright © 2000 USA Today. All rights reserved.

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This page contains a single entry by Jonathan published on October 30, 2000 5:28 AM.

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