This is a bit of a special case; rather than review the entire career of a band I will, in moments of intense laziness, choose to occasionally focus on a single album, one that has become enshrined as a defining moment in rock history. Note that I will only do this for Classic Rock Canon installments, as posting Apocrypha entries for albums would be a bit too subjective, even for me. Canonical albums are much easier to clearly define.
Case in point, The Joshua Tree, a U2 album so embedded in every rock journalists pleasure center (except for Christgau, god bless his black joyless heart) that I've heard it trumpeted from every corner as a landmark/brilliant/effervescent piece of music. You'd think it could cure cancer, this.
Now, I've never actually head this album. I've heard the major singles off of it ("I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" and "With Or Without You") and enjoyed other U2 albums (Zooropa is a particular favorite of mine) but I've only heard the hype around The Joshua Tree. Until now! I was inspired to write this review mainly by listening to the first track, "Where The Streets Have No Name", and fucking hating it. So let's get into the muck of things.
1. "Where The Streets Have No Name" - Fucking awful. Bland and uninteresting, mistaking "faffing about with a few chords" for "atmospheric". And, surprise surprise, Bono's lyrics are still one step beyond hackneyed.
2. "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" - It's fine. The title is a bit on the long/pretentious side (like U2's career, BURN) but the song itself is at least inoffensive.
3. "With Or Without You" - This song actually gets worse by the minute; the two minute mark introduces the Edge's trademark guitar tone, which does not fit in with this song at fucking all. The three minute mark sees Bono get all emotional, by which I mean he starts yelling and going "WHOAH-OH-OH" which is just fucking irritating. The four minute mark sees things dissolve into a thin gruel of "atmosphere".
4. "Bullet The Blue Sky" - Bono's growling is irritating, laughable, and slightly offensive. The lyrics are nonsensical garbage. The phrase "rattle and hum" also pops up, which should clue you in to how bad this song is. Great fucking work by the rhythm section though; I wish these guys would get a better band. Oh and look Bono's talking about fucking nothing. "All the colors of a royal flush"? "As a man breathes into a saxophone"? BRILLIANT. Oddly enough it works a lot better on paper. Hearing Bono talk is just irritating.
5. "Running To Stand Still" - U2's love of blues/Americana music crops through with the guitar intro, which is classic slide/vibrato. Bono's voice is less irritating now that he's in his usual range instead of the gutteral nonsense from the last song. The whole "x without x-ing" bit is a bit irritating, as is the "lala deday" chorus but it's nothing that bad. The moaning at ~2:45 grates on my nerves, though. Oh wait, here comes the fucking HARMONICA. Fucking hell Bono, McCartney wouldn't be able to pull this shit off.
6. "Red Hill Mining Town" - Halfway through! I'm already bored, which isn't a good sign. I was going to say something about this but I got distracted by a webcomic, which really says something, doesn't it? About the song, not my attention span. Great drumming though.
7. "In God's Country" - Guitar driven song, which means it's as boring as the Edge's skullcap. It's a shame he discovered that guitar tone, as he used to a lot more interesting and capable. Go listen to War sometime; solid stuff.
8. "Trip Through Your Wires" - A harmonica intro? That doesn't bode well, does it? These harmonies sound exactly like another song but I can't quite place it for some reason. This is another guitar-heavy track, which means my eyes are losing focus and I'm trying to find something to occupy my attention. Again, great drumming when the song features it.
9. "One Tree Hill" - One Tree Hill? I hate that show! I hate this song! I'm getting fucking sick of this album! La la la! The fuck is this outro? Is that a fucking choir!? This doesn't even fit in with the song, WHY IS IT HERE!?!?
10. "Exit" - I think the cricket noises are Brian Eno's way of telling us this album is boring and he doesn't even care. Oddly enough, this song's actually pretty solid once it picks up a bit. Why? Because the rhythm section is getting the focus. Noticing a trend? Actually, never mind. It falls in on itself after the second verse. Also, I think Eno knicked that keyboard bass sound from Low. Can't remember what song right now.
11. "Mothers Of The Disappeared" - Great title, blowhard. I think I'd like Bono a lot now if he wasn't so convinced that he was the modern messiah. This is also just a shitty ballad. And it's over five minutes long? Fuck you.
Right, it's finally over.I officially do not understand the fervent praise this thing gets. I really don't. The peak moments on the record are the ones where the music is mediocre instead of outright turgid. I feel like Jay Sherman; all I can think is IT STINKS, IT STINKS, I STINKS.
Jesus, I need a nap.