First Appeared in The Music Box, July 1997, Volume 4, #7
Written by John Metzger
Hidden beneath the outlandish glitz, pretentious hype, and raving dance grooves of the latest U2 release Pop is another amazing album. It seems as if on each outing, U2 heads in a new direction while maintaining a definitive link to the past. This effort is no exception. If one were to follow the transition from Achtung Baby to the underrated Zooropa to the movie hits See Me, Kiss Me, Thrill Me and Theme from Mission Impossible, it's very easy to see how Pop became what it is. In essence, U2 is a band that is always on the move, attempting to create something new and different rather than repeatedly rehash the same material. Its changes, however, are not as much of a stretch as the casual listener is initially led to believe. The ensemble can still connect to its past, and it does so quite effectively on The Playboy Mansion, which easily could have fit with the scope of Rattle and Hum. Religion has always been a favorite subject of the U2, and these themes are back with a vengeance not seen since The Joshua Tree. The group still hasn't found what it's looking for, and its search has taken on a more cynical tone.
Of course, the question looms as to where U2 will travel next. There's a stripped-down ambience to the single Staring at the Sun and that may prove to be the key track that moves the band beyond the techno-phonic rave scene, carrying it back to its roots. Acoustic and traditional Irish instrumentation very well may empower U2 to its next musical plane. In the meantime, Pop isn't to be missed. Reach beyond the pounding rhythmic beats and discover the band that has always been there.
Of Further Interest...
Pop is available from Barnes & Noble.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 1997 The Music Box