Although U2 had gone through some changes stylistically over time, after the release of Achtung Baby they went through a bit of a down period critically with their music. This album is seen as somewhat of a return to their previous form of great albums, although it is not as highly regarded as previous albums such as The Joshua Tree. Still, this is an important album and no doubt an interesting listen so let’s see what we have here.
We begin with the brilliant Beautiful Day. It has some delayed keyboard, electronic sounds and Bono’s majestic singing here. It is seemingly melancholic at the start, before Bono goes into some absolutely awesome singing in the chorus. This has been a radio staple for many years, and it is easy to see why. U2 are on fine form here, with an awesome mixture of melody and pulsating rhythm. A wonderful and lively song that is fresh and full of optimistic. Couldn’t have a better start to a 21st century Rock album, the dual tracked vocals are really bright and amazing sounding. If you need to experience a happy listen, this is a good starting point. Great song by U2. It ends with a lone electronic sound effect. Very good to hear.
Next is Stuck In A Moment You Can’t Get Out Of which is a bit of an odd listen at the start. Bono sings nicely along here, and does a very good job of propelling this song along. This is a really nice sort of song, very reassuring and decent listening. This is a very good and gentle sort of Pop/Rock music. U2 are known to have a huge fanbase, and even with lesser songs here, you can tell why. A very good song, this is a very loveable and wonderful album so far. The whole band here plays naturally and relaxed, they obviously were content with the music here, and you can hear this. A great listen, and a good radio ready Pop piece. Awesome stuff.
Elevation begins with some interesting processed sounds, before some basslines kick in and Bono yelps wonderfully away. This is another radio repeat song, but you can tell why. Bono has never sounded this happy and joyful here, the different sections come together perfectly. This is a glorious and yes, underrated piece. If you have to start your day in a good mood, this is the song for it. A strange midsection is here, before this whole piece kicks in again. The whole group sound on their game here, and The Edge has some masterful guitar licks here. Definitely a highlight of this album, all the way to the fade out. Great and near perfect song.
Walk On begins with some interesting instrumentation, before launching into a rather more serious piece that is a bit longer track length wise. Bono sings reassuringly here, and although this piece is more moody, it is still very consistent and decent. A very good piece of music quality, this album as so far does not disappoint. Everything is nicely put together here, and Bono’s voice is still in good form, considering that this is the group’s 10th album. The message of this song? A great one, don’t give up. The Edge’s clean guitar solo here and playing is on good form, too. A very good piece of music to hear, this is really fresh and good sounding. The chanted lyrics at the end are brilliant. Great job U2, a very strong sentiment that matters, and a good piece of music as well.
Next is Kite which begins with a weird string section patch, before going into a gorgeous and wonderful piece of music. Bono sings nicely here, although it is really difficult to pinpoint what he wants to say here. This is a more melancholy piece, just in time for the Coldplay crazed fans in the early 2000s. In any case, this is a very good quality and strong album so far. Even the “lesser” tracks here are amazing consistent, and this song is about relationship issues. Bono is firmly in control here by the sounds of it, and this looks back to a particular theme of U2’s music throughout the years. Some self-conscious lyrics are right at the end here, before finishing nicely. Good song.
Following is In A Little While which has some weird guitar parts to begin with, before going into a steady drumbeat, and this song gets underway. Bono sounds strangely like John Lennon in his singing here, but of course it’s Bono. This is somewhat weaker of a song, yet sounding in place on this album. Some great harmonies are here though, and no doubt that this is a refreshing listening experience. A really good effort despite not being perfect, this is a good listen regardless that has some really cool lyrics. A good three minute Pop/Rock piece that is different. It is nice to know U2 can still impress listeners after all this time in the music world.
Wild Honey is likely an ode to The Beach Boys, but is an original piece of music. Good to see U2 acknowledging past glories in the world of music as well as their own. Another really good three minute long Pop/Rock piece, it goes to show that U2 really cares about their fans enough to continue making great music in the 21st century. Bono’s singing is inimitable and impressive, too. Very assuring and comforting listening, this is a step in the correct direction for U2. A gentle and relaxing listen, and proof of the consistency of this album. Great song, and album, too.
Peace On Earth comes next with a fade in intro that sounds melodic and majestic. Peace on earth is something that humanity hopes to achieve, but often ideology gets in the way to prevent that. Bono here is wishing for the best in relation to this, and he sounds very optimistic about it. A really intellectual and observational idea for a song, you will likely agree about Bono’s lyrical and pseudo-political/religious stance here if you understand and respect his opinion. Especially as of time of writing, Bono’s message is more urgent at this time of humanity. A nice and fresh listen, you will be agreeing with Bono’s hybrid Socialism and Christian values here, at least with this song. Great statement here, although not everyone will agree with Bono’s methods of doing so. Good song.
Next is When I Look At The World which begins with some Achtung Baby style guitars, some nice drum loops and a bouncing bassline here. Bono’s sings nicely here, it is surprisingly how he has managing to keep such a great voice in the 21st century when other Rock stars of their time has lost their singing voices. This track is not a single, but is beautiful and nicely produced. This is a really cool listening experience and just sounds as fresh and listenable as the rest of the album. Some nice slide guitar is here, which is a cool musical touch. This is a really great tune, and Bono sings about how he sees the world. Another good listening experience, Bono is firmly the star of U2, although the other three in U2 back him up perfectly.
After that is New York which begins with electronic sounds and textures, which is quite different for an intro into a U2 song. Gradually elements seep into the piece, and Bono sings about the chaos of New York, the most populated city in the western world. Singing about heatwaves in the summer in that city, this is likely relatable to personal experiences in that city. Without warning, the band go into a much louder section which is nice and punchy. This is a really unusual sort of song, and although it doesn’t sound out of place here, it is more of an autobiographical story than anything else. Nonetheless, this is a very good listen about one’s experience in that city. Bono’s lyrics and singing here are very relatable. Not bad for a five minute Pop song, Bono’s singing is really amazing towards the end. Nice and fresh listen, with an interesting outro.
Grace is another five minute plus piece that begins with some simple basslines and guitar parts, very much King Crimson like sounding, or Miles Davis like, for the matter. Still, this is a gorgeous and tranquil sort of listen. A very decent and fine listen for this sort of music, and Bono sings about the religious concept behind his belief in God. This is a slow burner, but very suspenseful and great sounding. Bono is a strange person to many in the outside world, and one could find flaws with his mixture of religion and politics. Still, an enormously rewarding listen about a metaphorical lady and the religious name behind her. Wonderful and genuinely beautiful, it may be referring to the Holy Spirit. All the same, good song and nice to hear something a bit different. A solid and gentle tune.
The Ground Beneath Her Feet is the last track here, and has several seconds of silence at the start, before going into a really weird piece of music. It is okay, but not as good as other songs here on this album. The good thing is that this is only three minutes long, so if you want to skip it, you can. Even though this track is weaker, it is still a nice fit on this album. Regardless of this, this finishes off a nice album quite well. Bono sings from a deep and emotional place, and The Edge puts in a great guitar solo here. U2 no doubt are a great band, and this album proves that.
This album was a return to form by U2, and it is clearly evident here that U2 had a lot of great music to deploy here. If you want to hear U2 that is very natural sounding, without some of the pretense of their other work, this album is a perfect fit for you. Great, fresh and inspired, a must listen.
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