Pop 
Artist: U2 
Label: Island Records 
  
This album has been released to very mixed reactions. Some have heralded it as the band's best effort yet, while others have dismissed it as further evidence that U2 has become too popular and institutionalized for its own good.  Having liked a couple of the singles released from the album, though, I expected to enjoy it.  And I certainly did.  
  
The sounds used vary widely, and there is a large distance between this and some of U2's earlier albums. Larry Mullen's programming, drums, and percussion bring in elements of trip-hop and the diverse electronica scene over the Edge's guitar, Adam Clayton's bass, and Bono's impassioned vocals.  Those vocals are in fine form, and the lyrics seem to speak fairly openly of Bono's spiritual position.  The music does still retain elements of earlier U2 work, but has a freshness and a cohesiveness all its own, from the cynical disco/electronica of "Discotheque" to the country-tinged "Staring At The Sun."   
  
"If God Will Send His Angels" seems to look at social issues, while utilizing imagery that many Christians will relate to, in a manner that might concern them:  

    God has got his phone off the hook babe would he even pick up if he could? 
    it's been a while since we saw that child hangin' round this neighbourhood 
    see His mother dealing in a doorway see Father Christmas with a begging bowl 
    Jesus sister's eyes are a blister... THE HIGH STREET never looked so low
 and  
    Jesus never let me down you know Jesus used to show me the score 
    then they put Jesus in show business now it's hard to get in the door
or from the final track, "Wake Up Dead Man": 
    Jesus, I'm waiting here boss 
    I know you're looking out for us 
    but maybe your hands aren't free 
    your Father, he made the world in seven 
    He's in charge of heaven 
    will you put a word in for me
 These and other lyrics suggest to me that while Bono might not be what I'd call an evangelical, he does have a faith in Christ.  As a relative newcomer to the music of U2, I have found this album enjoyable for the music and interesting for its thoughtful lyrics.  There are places where the music needs more development (which isn't surprising seeing its experimental nature), but there is much to explore here. 

By: James Stewart 

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