Picks and Pans Review: The Unforgettable Fire

updated 12/10/1984 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 12/10/1984 AT 01:00 AM EST


The news last spring was that U2, the ambitious young quartet from Dublin, was working with Brian Eno, the rock auteur whose production credits include David Bowie and Talking Heads. The collaboration seemed both logical and intriguing. Eno is a master of layers and textures; he can hang moods like curtains. U2 generates a shimmering curtain of sound, thanks in part to the precocious chord effects of the group's guitarist, David ("The Edge") Evans. This U2-Eno project includes the Canadian producer Daniel Lanois, who has worked with Martha and the Muffins; it has generated some interesting results. The Edge's ringing, droning, choirlike guitar shares space in the mix with layered keyboard parts and electronic effects, played by Eno, Lanois or Edge. The sound, and the group's yearning, melancholy melodic style, cast an incantatory spell. But like a fog, it can make you soggy if you stay out in it too long. Wire, one of the band's most rousing songs, burns off that fog quickly. Throughout the album, drummer Larry Mullen Jr. seems to be playing better than ever. Vocalist Bono Hewson's lyrics focus on America and Martin Luther King Jr., but they add up to little more than allusions. (Island)

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