U2: All That You Can’t Leave Behind

Interscope Records

Rating: A-

A Simple Revelation.

It really was a phase after all, guys? You know, the whole half hearted, un-inspired trance/techno experiment that for some reason you felt the need to explore and test the loyalty of your believers? Thank God for invincibility, because you guys would’ve been headlining Thursday nights at the Tiki Bar had you been mere rock mortals.

No one said a follow up to Joshua Tree would be easy, and Actung Baby was a valiant effort but then there was that whole Zoo TV fiasco and that album afterwards (did you guys really dress up like the Village People in that video?) that left us wondering if the whole jovial Irish ride had come to a fiery crash landing.

But it hasn’t, Thank God. U2 is rocking harder than ever (although at a respectable middle-age pace) and again demonstrating the musicianship which solidified them as one of the greatest bands ever. All That You Can’t Leave Behind is more than just a testament to that return, its a validation that they never really went away.

This eleven song outing stresses melody and arrangement over pure emotion, which U2 has always relied so heavily upon to fuel their songwriting. Ranging from the expressive Elevation to the somber yet stirring final cut, Grace, U2 seems to be having fun again playing as a band, doing what they do best. The drum machines and sequencers are gone and the production is scaled back to normal. And for these four Dubliners, that’s all is took to again find their niche.

Kevin Brent