Heartfelt Songs Of Experience Sung Proudly In Triumph

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The Straits Times (Singapore), October 26, 2000

Heartfelt Songs Of Experience Sung Proudly In Triumph

by Yeow Kai Chai

BONO and Gang have ditched postmodernist irony and tinted wraparounds, and stashed away their Pop-Mart fireworks to return to their meat-and-potatoes roots. Okay, maybe not the shades. All That You Can't Leave Behind is a euphoric, no-gimmicks album made by four Dublin rock stalwarts who, in their late 30s and reaching the Big Four-O, are contented, happily-moneyed and can now look back without anger. A heartfelt, relaxed, rock-out affair, it is a no-theme album which flaunts its songs of experience, scabrous wounds and hard-earned triumphs proudly. It is a grizzled Gladiator who just wants to unwind and offer some good ol' stories after years in the battlefield.

Instantly U2-sounding, All That... is rock 'n' roll made new. Meaning it would be embraced wholeheartedly by their throngs of disciples who loved and followed them from their early 1980s days, until they got frightened by their gender-and genre-bending ventures of the 1990s. Even the expensive digital touches by Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois are subtle, low-key and stay wisely in the background. U2 is back, at ease with their age, and, as a result, sounding younger in their realisation. When they rock, they kick ass without the funky, tiresome knowingness, but with unadorned ardour. And when they play it soft they are killers.

Check out, for instance, the flagship single Beautiful Day: It's a laid-back, uplifting rocker which sets the mood nicely for the album's breezy, jaunty set. "See the bird with the leaf in her mouth/After the flood all the colours come out," coos Bono in a splendidly earnest croon. Which is why lovely songs such as the flirtatious Wild Honey and the bluesy, Van Morrison-esque In A Little While are more affecting than an epic protest song like Peace On Earth, a song inspired by the Omagh bombing incident, beautiful though it is. This is a U2 not afraid to sound light (but not lightweight), or even simply sentimental. Bless them.

Copyright © 2000 The Straits Times. All rights reserved

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This page contains a single entry by Jonathan published on October 26, 2000 5:23 AM.

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