U2 were evolving. Of course, a new decade meant that a fresh approach to their music was necessary. They wanted to move on from a traditional approach that was on their earlier albums, such as The Joshua Tree. On this album, they achieved critical and commercial success for doing so. Let’s take a listen to the album and see if this is successful today.
We kick off with Zoo Station which begins with some interesting electric guitar parts and some electronic drum beats, leading into an upbeat sounding pop song. Bono singing is electronically treated here, making this track sound rather unusual. Some unusual lyrics are here, too, being very impressionistic. The whole thing sounds quite odd, but is catchy enough to enjoy. A good start to this album. There are some melancholy guitar parts in the outro. Nice.
Next is Even Better Than The Real Thing which has some great sounds and some awesome guitar parts by The Edge, and Bono singing without electronics on his voice from now on. The chorus in particular is very catchy, it is a great song and sounds magnificent to hear. There are some cleverly placed guitar parts and sound effects in general on this song. A great pop/rock song, and a great listening experience.
One starts off with some heavily treated guitar parts and then Bono sings about a broken hearted situation. It is specifically about breakup and heartbreak, according to Bono. Still, it is a great song and some great sounds and deployment of sound effects are here. It’s a deep and distressing listen for people to hear, and is a sad reflection on such a situation. Great effort though. The harmonies at the end are excellent.
Until The End Of The World has some weird chanting at the start, before bass guitar and bongos enter. The Edge’s guitar parts are really great here, before Bono sings about a fairly disturbing situation in a social context. Some great lyrics are here, “I took the money, I spiked your drink, You miss too much these days if you stop to think…” and the song is really good. There is a loud guitar solo that fits the song perfectly here. It has a great pop sensibility this song, a great effort. The outro is rather psychedelic with electronically treated guitars and feedback.
The weird intro leads into Who’s Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses with The Edge’s guitars sounding amazing, along with a string section. Bono sings in an upbeat way which is superb. It is a great song all the way through, and sounds melodic, fresh and original. It’s a great song and has more brilliant singing and playing from the group, Bono in particular sounds amazing here. The whole thing sounds majestic, a great song. The song sounds very climatic towards the end, and is a very good listen from start to finish.
Next is So Cruel which has some breakbeats and piano to kick off the song, along with Bono’s singing. It’s about a problematic lover who is dissatisfied with oneself. It does sound well thought out and constructed. A nice ballad about being in love with perhaps the wrong person, but a great one nonetheless. It’s a deeply emotional listen here, the whole track is perfectly executed. Brilliant effort by U2. This song is a good tear-jerking breakup song.
The Fly is next with some heavy effects on The Edge’s guitars, and has Bono invoking Nine Inch Nails with a mixture of singing and whispering here. It uses some great imagery and guitar pyrotechnics to make this song come alive. The chorus has some falsetto singing mixed with the dual mix of vocals here, before the The Edge creates a loud and sound effect drenched guitar solo which sounds really awesome. It’s a great song and near perfect, even though this was not a major song from the album. Excellent.
Mysterious Ways comes next, and has some funky guitars to begin the song with, before going into a decent song with bongo beats and more cleverly placed sound effects. It is a great listen, Bono’s lyrics and singing are at a peak of sorts on this album. The midsection here is really good, with Bono being the commander of U2, and the others putting in 100% to the music here. Great pop song. The outro has multitracked bongos as well.
Next is Tryin’ To Throw Your Arms Around The World which begins with some rolling breakbeats and some visionary lyrics and singing from Bono. Some unusual impressionistic lyrics are here, but the whole band sound amazing and on top of their craft here. A nice song about giving it all in life, and a great listen. Some brilliant sound effects are here too, showcasing the melodicism and effort by the group. Soothing song.
Following is Ultra Violet (Light My Way) has a ghostly sounding outro with Bono singing, before The Edge’s guitars kick in. It’s a good song about having a partner to lead one on. The guitar parts are very jangly here, and the sound effects are very advanced and futuristic here. It’s a good song, even if distressed emotions are on it. A melancholy piece, but great to hear and better than anything Coldplay attempted 10 years later.
Acrobat begins with a load of excellent guitar feedback, before launching into a surreal pop song that sounds awesome but depressing. It’s a good song regardless, with a classic quote in it. Even for a lesser track, this sounds superbly well delivered and Bono and co. have come a long way since the beginning of their career here. There is a mad guitar solo in this song as well, listen out for it. A dark and unsettling experience.
Love Is Blindness is the last track on this album, and is very dark, with a prominent bass line to boot. It is a great listen to finish off the album with. It’s not a happy listen, but finishes the album off nicely. It is something one should listen to in a very dark mood indeed. A good way to finish a great album.
This album is superb, and sounds completely different to anything else out there today. Not just that, but every track here is very much perfect in the musical context here. If you don’t know a great deal about U2 or their music, this and The Joshua Tree are equally important starting points for their music. A great and unforgettable album. Brian Eno produced most of this album as well, another interesting fact that you may not know.