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Album Review

No matter which way you look at it, Pop doesn't have the same shock of the new that Achtung Baby delivered on first listen. Less experimental and more song-oriented than Zooropa, Pop attempts to sell the glitzy rush of techno to an audience weaned on arena rock. And that audience includes U2 themselves. While they never sound like they don't believe in what they're doing, they still remove most of the radical elements of electronic dance, which is evident to anyone with just a passing knowledge of the Chemical Brothers and Underworld. To a new listener, Pop has flashes of surprise — particularly on the rampaging "Mofo" — but underneath the surface, U2 rely on anthemic rockers and ballads. "Discotheque" might be a little clumsy, but "Staring at the Sun" shimmers with synthesizers borrowed from Massive Attack and a Noel Gallagher chorus. Similarly, "Do You Feel Loved" and "If You Wear That Velvet Dress" fuse old-fashioned U2 dynamism with a keen sense of the cool eroticism that makes trip-hop so alluring. Problems arise when the group tries to go for conventional rock songs, some of which are symptomatic of the return of U2's crusade for salvation. Pop is inflected with the desire for a higher power to save the world from its jaded spiral of decay and immorality, which is why the group's embrace of dance music never seems joyous — instead of providing an intoxicating rush of gloss and glamour, it functions as a backdrop for a plea of salvation. Achtung Baby also was a comment on the numbing isolation of modern culture, but it made sweeping statements through personal observations; Pop makes sweeping statements through sweeping observations. The difference is what makes Pop an easy record to admire, but a hard one to love.

Customer Reviews

...a failure eh?!

The problem with this album is that it gets compared with Achtung Baby too much. The two are about as much alike as they are to the Joshua Tree. To me, this is an incredible album, the combination of rock and techno is unparalleled, and for a band to make Mofo and If God Will Send His Angels in the space of two tracks....WOW! Despite this, there is some criticism, in that the single versions of If God Will Send His Angels and Please are far better than these album versions, which I find incredible, because before I heard them, I was blown away by the album tracks anyway. Although commercially a failure, in terms of music quality, it is a stunning success.

Have U2 gone 'pop'?

U2 delivered this album much later than expected and still it wasn't finished. When its good its very, very good but when its bad.... As Bono said himself "this is a mixed up kid of a record", which should by no means be a disadvantage. Unfortunately, several tracks sound more like demos than decent tunes. In short, buy the songs separate to each other and leave out 'miami', 'if god will send...' and '...velvet dress'. Then go and buy the Bono + Jools Holland version of '...velvet dress' - its much better. However, because of the sheer quality of discotheque, mofo, do you feel loved, staring at the sun and wake up dead man the album gets 4 stars and more importantly, U2 retain their credability.

The Last "Different" U2 Album

U2 rarely sit in the comfort zone. The willingness to try something different brought about this album as well as Achtung Baby & Zooropa but this one got slated so they went back to the usual stuff....the old stuff and new stuff all sound the same!!!!! I think that people love to hate this album because it's different, but that's what makes it so great. Discotheque, Staring at the Sun, Last Night....., Gone, Velvet Dress & Dead Man are stand out tunes, If they were on Achtung they would as "classics"


Formed: 1976 in Dublin, Ireland

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Through a combination of zealous righteousness and post-punk experimentalism, U2 became one of the most popular rock & roll bands of the '80s. They were rock & roll crusaders during an era of synthesized pop and heavy metal, equally known for their sweeping sound as for their grandiose statements about politics and religion. The Edge provided the group with a signature sound by creating sweeping sonic landscapes with his heavily processed, echoed guitars. Though the Edge's style wasn't conventional,...
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