Realeased: October 23, 2000
Universal-Island Records, Ltd.
Sometimes I surprise even myself. When I listen to these albums and make my notes, I want to hear the whole thing through a couple of times before writing anything on the blog. Only after I've jotted down my own observations do I then like to look for reviews of the particular album or band to see what others have said. Out of my own curiosity as well as to make sure I've got an idea of the chronology of the the release, etc. I read someone else's review, a writer practiced in music-speak, and I think "gee, that was well-put." Or, "gee, I never would have noticed that, myself."
Here is what I wrote, verbatim, after listening to this U2 album several times:
This U2 album was not a disappointment when it was released. First album they put out in the 21st century. Two decades of U2. Wow. Anyway... I liked it immediately--Shawn had bought it--and we listened to it a lot. What I find interesting is that, despite the depth and emotional quality, it's a pretty laid back record. The drums seem light and easy, not a lot of hard (read "raw") guitar riffs. The musical arrangements are excellent and provide variation and surprises; but with the exception of "Beautiful Day" and "Elevation", they're taking you on a walk. An important, serious, thought-provoking walk. The influences of all they've done musically have come together and produced this older, wiser record.
I'm not saying I've written anything especially profound, here, but I read a review from The Guardian and, basically, he said something along the same lines. Of course, he said it really well and intelligently and much better than I did. Still, I am a little pleased with myself for making similar observations. I've never been much of an album review reader. Not until lately, and mostly waaaaaaaaay after the fact. I like going about it backwards. If I hear a band on the radio that I like and I buy the album (or download it from emusic.com, which is buying it, but not physical ownership of the disc... i miss liner notes) I want to hear it without the words of a reviewer in my head at the same time. I don't like to read film reviews of movies that I'm going to see, either. I wait until after I've seen the movie and then I go back to read it.
Back to the record...
This is a much simpler album than their previous releases of the 90's. Back to their roots, so to speak. Listening to it, I'd put it much closer to The Joshua Tree than Pop or Zooropa--especially the guitar--are they called "hooks"?--on "Walk On". Adam Sweeting, of The Guardian, called it "vintage Edge" when he wrote about "Beautiful Day". I say vintage Edge is all over this album. Bono's vocals are particularly emotional and aching, especially on "In a Little While". The way his ragged, tired voice cracks makes my knees a little weak. And I know that it means that he's not treating his vocal chords very well, but gosh... A completely singable bunch of songs. There is something very solid about this album, too. I truly get the sense that these musicians have been doing this for such a long time, together, (in a good sense) and the fluidity of the collaboration is evident. It's hard to make music this good, this clear. It's rare. (Am I going to wind up saying that about many bands/records on this journey? hmmmm... Perhaps I should avoid such statements in the future. Well, without a doubt, U2 deserves such accolades, that I know.)