Pop (1997)


 
1. Discotheque 2. Do You Feel Loved? 3. Mofo 4. If God Would Send His Angles 5. Staring at the Sun 6. Last Night On Earth 7. Gone 8. Miami 9. The Playboy Mansion 10.If You Wear That Velvet Dress 11.Please 12.Wake Up Dead Man




 

Well, it took over 25 years, but U2 finally managed to release one (and so far, their only) Class A turkey. It had been a pretty big gap in between releases - their last one coming four years ago - and unlike other U2 releases where there was a longer than average waiting period, U2 doesn't change things up that much at all - electing to continue in the direction of the electro-synthesized techno genre. Perhaps the sound was just getting a bit old, or maybe the band just wasn't really sure what direction they wanted to go. But at this point, they had just dragged the sound on for one too many records.

Add all of this to the combination of, well, the songs here just don't quite match up. Had they been stellar tunes, that would have been another thing all together. But for the most part, the songs here seem average at best. Then, when you add all the bells and whistles, it tends to just bog the whole album down. Consider the first three songs, Discotheque, Do You Feel Loved and Mofo. These tunes, all at the very front of the album, come across as, really, one big techno dance song. Differences are somewhat minimal among these three tracks. The listener is saturated with pulsating dance beats for well over 15 minutes. Not necessarily a bad thing if you're out dancing at a club, but on a U2 record?? It probably didn't help when the lead single, Discotheque, featured a video of the guys dressed as The Village People.

After these three songs, the band digress and go for a bit more of a straight forward sound. They give us tunes that probably could have sounded better if they would have focused on the overall production and not tried so hard to keep the electronica sound so intact. If God Would Send His Angels has a pretty decent melody and heart filled lyrics, but all of the techno starts and stops throughout the song bring the whole experience down several levels. I think this song might have been the second single. I'm not entirely sure. Anyway, this is the pattern throughout most of the tracks. Gone, another example of a potentially good tune that just goes a bit awry. The Edge's squealing guitar fills within the mix are horrid, and makes ones think of scraping nails on a chalk board.

As the album progresses, the only saving grace (a bit of a pun here) are the lyrics. As usual, Bono is singing a lot about confusion, disillusionment and spirituality. I imagine that there are more references to God on this record that your average Contemporary Christian album. Witness the last song Wake Up Dead Man that is basically a prayer of desperation. Awesome heart filled sentiments, but there simply is too much musical reverb, distortions, and special effects that drag the experience down. Bono even uses the "F word". I cant recall if they've ever done that before.

Of course, this was the first new U2 album in a few years, so the critics initially loved the album, but then, as critics often do, they changed their mind after awhile when the album was deemed mediocre by so many of the fan base. The band toured. It was another extravagant stadium production. Rumors were abound that the band was losing money. Definitely not a highlight of their career.

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