The Daily Yomiuri ATYCLB Review

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The Daily Yomiuri, October 26, 2000


U2 is back - not back in the sense that this is the band's first studio album since 1997's Pop, but in the sense that the four Irish lads who gave the world The Joshua Tree are back after a 13-year hiatus. Not since that 1987 masterpiece has Bono sung from on high like he does here, delivering all the glory of U2's best anthems and mining the depths of their more subdued, introspective moments. And it's all done with such stripped-down, well-crafted song writing that the album sounds somehow familiar even on first listen. "I'm just trying to find a decent melody," Bono sings on "Stuck in a Moment You Can't Get Out Of," "A song I can sing in my own company." U2 have provided several here.

The album opens with "Beautiful Day," a sung-from-the-knees anthem about searching for meaning and hope amid the increasing complexity of modern civilization. Not since "Where the Streets Have No Name" has a song been better suited for singing from the rooftops. From there to the mantra-rap exploration of midlife crisis in "New York," the album runs through the emotional spectrum, all perfectly shaded by vintage Edge on guitars.

A big part of the reason for the album's success is that the Edge has gone back to the inventive guitar sounds that defined the U2 of old. The layered jangle of War, the major-chord swing of "Desire," the minimalist textures of "Bad": all of them are revisited here, but with the matured restraint one would expect of a band that burst onto the scene a full 20 years ago. Bono's voice has surrendered a little off the top over the years, but where it breaks up it does so nicely. He uses this to great effect on tracks like "Walk On," a song about Myanmar activist Aung San Suu Kyi that finds U2 drawing on the political passions that drove so much of their earlier work.

In a word: masterpiece.

Copyright © 2000 The Daily Yomiuri. All rights reserved.

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This page contains a single entry by Jonathan published on October 26, 2000 4:57 AM.

A-OK: Bono and Polly Jean Make Peace With Rock's Grand Cliches was the previous entry in this blog.

All That U2 Can Bring Along is the next entry in this blog.

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