U2's 'Zooropa' is a bit of a let-down after their magnificent 'Achtung Baby'. It is a brave, new effort that goes into more of a "space age" feel, adding to the technology of its predecessor. The subject matter is more bleak, not unlike a series of depressed creations by "Major Tom". It seems to look at the state of affairs, like usual; only this time Bosnia and technology seem to have staved off the party atmosphere of 'Achtung...'. Significantly, that one was done after the fall of the Berlin Wall. 'Zooropa' soberly assesses the world after communism's collapse.
The title track is the most space age song they've done. The lyrics evoke alienation in the starkest form. If "Zoo Station" was the "Magical Mystery Tour" of U2's career, then this is the "Space Oddity". "Numb" furthers the alienation with an industrial mix and the Edge's monotone rap delivery. "Lemon" seems to disco-tize the music, making it sound like a space station lounge. The lyrics reek of despair, but also contain hope with lines such as "Midnight is where the day begins". (Perhaps mixing their senses like English poet, John Keats, they liltingly give mantras to stave off the desperation of "holding onto heaven too tight." They also seem to draw from Dante where the pilgrim and Virgil reach their destination out of hell at midnight, making Purgatory, a place and time.) Melancholy fills the air with the aching longing of the love song "Stay (Faraway So Close!)". With the Edge's simple, British invasion guitar licks and Bono singing lines like "Dressed up like a car crash/ Your wheels are turning, but you're upside down." It is also a serenade that would go well with a movie like "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" with lines like "Stay! With the demons you drown...Stay! With the spirit I've found..." If the first half seems bleak, then the second half goes to further depths. "Daddy's Gonna Pay for Your Crashed Car" takes a sublime and desperate look at the contingencies of life. "Some Days Are Better Than Others" is sarcastic, but entertaining in its acceptance that some things just happen in life. Both "Babyface" and "Some Days.." are upbeat, yet contain able phrasing for such mundane subject matter. They also reflect their desperate moments, not as poignantly as on 'The Joshua Tree,' but the despair reaped on "The First Time" and "Dirty Day" are almost frightening. If the loneliness and desperation weren't enough, U2 finishes the album with Johnny Cash, singing ably a science fiction nightmare with "The Wanderer". It is a vision of love gone wrong in a landscape of nuclear and environmental proportions.
Perhaps 'Zooropa' alienated some fans. It is not a happy sojourn after the brilliant 'Achtung...,' but it is a brave, unflinching ensemble that can help people work through depression and their worst fears of the future. 'Zooropa' was a bleak, but brave step for U2.
I have to give credit to U2 for being creative and developing different styles in their music. Achtung Baby is a true classic recording. However, the band decided to experiment with techno beats and spooky synthesizer and guitar effects. And you know what, it works somewhat. Through all the catchy stylings, the songs are a bit hit and miss. I like the title track, Lemon, The Wanderer, and several others. However memorable melodies are a little bit thin. Nonetheless, this is … more
I am a substitute teacher who enjoysonline reviewing. Skiing is my favorite pastime; weight training and health are my obsessions;and music and movies feed my psyche. Books are a treasure and a pleasure … more
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Following the band's Zoo TV tour, which took aim at consumerism and media overload, U2 brought those themes and the complex, futuristic sound of its preceding album,Achtung Baby, to their somewhat illogical conclusion onZooropa, the group's most chaotic, cutting-edge work. The monotone techno-rap "Numb" leads the way, while "Lemon" offers reminders ofDavid Bowie's Berlin trilogy of more than a decade before. Best of all is "The Wanderer," featuring a guest vocal by country-music iconJohnny Cash. His bottomless baritone sounds bizarre over burbling synthesizers, but Bono's trenchant lyric about a postapocalyptic seeker of sensation and experience before he repents nails Cash's legend at least as well as he ever has himself.--Daniel Durchholz