Maclean’s : Millennial dancing - U2 France

Maclean’s : Millennial dancing

lundi 24 mars 1997

Source : Maclean’s

From Maclean’s :

Millennial dancing

POPU2 (Island/A&M)

NICHOLAS JENNINGS

An instant assault on the senses, U2’s latest album kicks off with unsettling groans, ominousgrinding and riveting jackhammer beats. From the disquieting sounds of Discotheque, Pop then careens into the rhythmic vise-grip of Do You Feel Loved, which, despite its dreamy, falsetto vocals, is hardly soothing either. But nothing prepares the listener for what awaitsthem on the album’s third track. Played at breakneck speed, with clattering metallic noisesand wailing electronic effects, Mofo is U2 at its most radical and disturbing. "Lookin’ for asound that’s gonna drown out the world," Bono moans over the thundering backdrop. Heneedn’t worry ; he’s already found it. Louder and edgier than anything the Irish band hasproduced to date, Pop — particularly its first three songs — suggests that the four members ofU2 have been spending time at all-night warehouse raves, drawing from the cutting-edge,hypnotic dance sounds of techno, trance and trip-hop music. But Pop is more than just some aging rockers’ attempt to keep up with musical trends. With its twin concerns for thingsspiritual and superficial, the album seems perfectly suited to the twilight years of the 20thcentury.

Miami is superficial in the extreme, reveling in the "print shirts and southern accents/cigarsand big hair" of America’s kitsch capital. Similarly, The Playboy Mansion, a fantasy about gaining entry into Hugh Hefner’s pleasure palace, delights in itemizing the brand namesof pop culture. These amount to the best songs on the album, displaying a fun-lovingdecadence that U2 first revealed on Achtung Baby and later explored on its elaborate Zoo TV tour.

Several numbers on Pop also deal with a crisis in faith, as if there cannot be decadencewithout penance. On If God Will Send His Angels, a weary-sounding Bono wonderswhether God would answer his phone calls if he could. And on Wake Up Dead Man, hespeculates that although Jesus is undoubtedly "looking out for us," he is probably far toobusy to actually help. Both songs pick up where Joan Osborne’s One of Us left off, attempting to fill the spiritual vacuum of the times by bringing God back down to earth.

But ultimately, it is the sonic onslaught that gives Pop its punch. Like David Bowie, whose influence can be heard on the album, U2 is proving itself adept at synthesizing the sounds of the dance underground for a more mainstream audience. The experiment may not sitwell with fans of the group’s soaring, guitar-driven rock anthems — such classics as Pride (In the Name of Love) and With or Without You — but for lovers of adventurous groove-oriented dance music it will go down just fine. In its constant quest to redefine itself, U2has succeeded in coming up with a brave sound for the new millennium.

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