Picks and Pans Review: War
The group's 1980 debut album, Boy, crackled with an urgency provided by the plaintive vocals of a mop-headed youth calling himself Bono (Bono Hewson). He was backed by the echoey, remarkably original chordings of U2's guitarist, aptly dubbed the Edge (David Howell Evans). The Irish band put out a less interesting follow-up, October, in October 1981, but with this third album they win the rubber match. Edge has expanded his repertoire of styles and effects without becoming gratuitous—there's an emotional point to almost everything he does. This is not to shortchange bassist Adam Clayton and drummer Larry Mullen Jr., who form a sinuous rhythm section, but Edge establishes the basis of U2's intoxicating mood and texture. He's as important to the group as Andy Summers is to the Police, and he shows signs of developing into no less imposing a master of his instrument. Bono's lyrics are about the only thing weaker on War than on Boy. They're fuzzy, impoverished and sophomoric. Still, they're no worse than most other rock lyrics, and they're idealistic rather than nihilistic: "Angry words won't stop the fight/Two wrongs won't make it right." The way Bono sings the words, in any case, it's clear they mean something to him. And since he has a distinctive, attractive voice, he can get away with the occasional verbal clinker.