All Star Magazine's Pop Review

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AllStar Net Magazine (, March 1997

By John Bitzer

Album Rating: 8 (out of 10)

Let's get one thing straight: despite the utter inanity of the now- ubiquitous "Discotheque" and a plethora of hype to the contrary, U2 has not reinvented itself as a techno band. Pop is not exactly the document of a band's brave new step into electronica; it's simply Achtung Baby, Part Deux -- and that's a good thing.

Sonically, Pop again makes liberal use of all those bells and whistles that first appeared on Achtung -- Edge's watery guitar sound of "One," the siren of "Until the End of the World," the loops of of "Tryin' to Throw Your Arms Around the World" and even Bono's falsettos and newfound yodels are sprinkled lovingly throughout Pop. Along the way, the band throws in more intriguing loop- de- loops, buzzsaws, and wacka- wackas along the same lines, and with the same taste. It's a rich, delicious meal, one that takes multiple listens to digest, and leaves a ghost of a sense memory.

But ultimately, like good real estate agents with their location, location, location mantra, U2 prides itself on songs, songs, songs. And it's surprising how little credit they receive for it these days. Achtung Baby was remarkable for the personal touch of its lyrics (the downright sadness of songs like "Until the End of the World," "Who's Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses," and "Love is Blindness" was often overshadowed by the band's bluster, perhaps intentionally). Here the touch is just as sensitive in some places, more sensual in others ("If You Wear That Velvet Dress" is all lust, yet scarily romantic).

And curiously, at the core of Pop lies a sober spiritual center. The members of U2, you may recall, are deeply religious, and despite their efforts to playfully portray themselves as decadent rock stars, they take the opportunity here to sneak in works of ascetic contemplation and urgent prayer: "If God Will Send His Angels" is achingly beautiful; "Please" is this album's "Acrobat" -- its anger scorches as it builds to a dramatic climax; and the album's closer, "Wake Up Dead Man," is a bitter plea to Jesus to return to fix the world's ills.

For the last few years, U2 has operated with a public private duality: while piling on a thick layer of irony on grotesquely overblown tours, they've quietly written very personal songs -- and crafted them elegantly. The band's standards don't seem to allow for anything less.

Copyright © 1997 Allstar. All rights reserved.

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This page contains a single entry by Jonathan published on March 1, 1997 4:05 AM.

"Shop Till You Pop" was the previous entry in this blog.

U2 Is Still U2, Even When Using The Tools Of The Techno Trade is the next entry in this blog.

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