Twenty years have passed since their first album. Twenty
long years. They've gone from post-punk, to preachy rock,
to dance rock and have dabbled in genres in between. The changes
and evolution of U2 have molded them into sort of an
oddity. The fun and experimentation of the 1990's is now gone.
They've gone "back to their roots", so to speak, and this,
their latest album (at the time of this writing) is them telling
the world that the 90's are over. So is this whole back to
the basics motif a good thing? I'm not sure. Older U2
albums had a sort of excitement to them. Each one after Rattle
and Hum was a little different, a little edgier. From
Achtung Baby, to Zooropa,
to Pop, each 90's U2 album pushed the envelope
on what the band is capable of when it comes to musical creativity.
I guess the show had to come to an end sometime, yet still,
three years later, I yearn for the 'old' U2 back. But
that's not to say that All That You Can't Leave Behind
is a bad album. It's not. It's another fairly solid work by
U2, but it's just the climate of the album is such
a sudden change from the likes of Achtung Baby or Pop.
I guess I now know the feeling of the people who were old
enough to witness U2's musical change from The
Joshua Tree and Rattle and Hum to Achtung Baby.
The problem is, this musical change doesn't come anywhere
near the quality of Achtung Baby.
Anyway, let's take a look at the album at hand. The first
song that will greet your ears (and everything else on you,
but you won't know it because those things don't detect sound)
is Beautiful Day. This song is just... I don't know.
So happy. You just can't not feel good while listening to
this song. I think it really sets the stage for the album.
Uplifting. That's what this album is. After all the cynicism
of the 90's, it is a little nice to see the band just
try and make you feel good without going out of their way
to make you 'get' a message. The second track on the album
is Stuck in a Moment You Can't Get Out Of. Yeah, I
hate the length of the title too. What the hell is wrong with
just Stuck In A Moment? Please. Anyway, this is another
nice song. It's not particularly exciting or anything, but
it's nice. Great lyrics and everything... but still,
just nice (from now on nice will mean boring).
All right enough with just nice. This is U2,
dammit. Blow me away with something. The first two tracks
failed. So was my request fulfilled? Oh yes... the third song
on this album is Elevation. Now this is what
I want to hear! Incredibly weird lyrics fused with incredibly
cool music. It's about time! This song is just beautiful.
I have no idea what Bono's singing about half the time, something
about a mole digging in a hole and all that other stuff. Whatever,
it sounds cool! Great, great song. Especially when played
live. Moving along, we meet Walk On. One word: Wow.
This is the album's star song. It's just so... beautiful.
It's got the lyrics, it's got the music, and it's got the
meaning. If you don't feel uplifted after listening to this
song, please, watch the 6:30 news and order some of those
pills Pfizer is always plugging. Anyway, the next song is
Kite. This song is one of those that just screams quality.
It's a somber tune that deals with death, but it does it in
such a way that it's not so sad. Instead, it takes death and
puts it into a hopeful light. It takes a special song
to accomplish that. The last song on this section of the album
would be In A Little While. This is another sweet one.
It's just Bono musing about a hangover and it works well.
His vocals are noticeably great in this song too. Definitely
one of the better ones here.
Okay. So this album is really looking great. Six songs so
far, and some are true gems. But this is it, folks. The final
five are nowhere near the quality of the first six. This is
reminiscent of The Joshua Tree, except in that albums
case, all the songs were great, some just paled to the AMAZING
ones. Not so with All That You Can't Leave Behind.
There are some songs on this album that are just 'not there'
when it comes to U2-quality. It's really unfortunate.
The song at hand right now is Wild Honey. This song
is a little weird to hear, but kind of nice. It's just a sweet
little song. Maybe if it was a little slower it'd be something
to serenade your girlfriend with (provided that you can sing
well too). Anyway, next song. Peace On Earth. Okay,
I'll give this song credit, it's very, very sweet. But it's
also something else. Very, very boring. It's just another
nice song. Yawn. Next song on the track list would
be When I Look At the World. This song is quite interesting.
It starts very weird (for this album) and it just flows into
something that sounds 'traditional', but yet it has a certain
edge to it. The lyrics are also pretty nice and I can relate
to them. A pretty okay song in the end. The two final songs
that bring All That You Can't Leave Behind to a close
are questionable, to say the least. New York seems
like just a mindless musing about weather and other things
related to the U.S. city. I really don't see the point of
it. You "just got a place in New York"? Guess what,
Bono, I don't really care. Sorry. The music is nice, but the
lyrics are just, I don't know. Uninteresting. The closer of
this album is just bad. Grace is a complete ass of
a song. It's got the all-too-familiar nice lyrics combined
with music that will bore you to tears. Or to sleep. Probably
sleep. Maybe even both. Just turn the album off after When
I Look At the World. There's not much worth hearing afterwards.
In the end, this is a flawed album that's saved by some truly
great tracks and the fact that it's U2 and their falls
are on par with most other bands greatest moments. It's really
a shame that they couldn't come up with some better stuff
to close this album out, but there's always next time. The
boys tried, I commend them for that. But try a little harder
for the next album, please.
- Chris Rivera