In the late '70's and early '80's, you had disco, new wave, some punk, and heavy metal to choose from as the most popular forms of pop music. Then in 1980, along came a quaint little Irish combo called U2.
If you are only familiar with the band's headier work, such as Joshua Tree or Achtung Baby, this album will surprise you. It only barely resembles the band that would go on to dominate the world of rock. It is more akin to a skeleton upon which singer Bono and the band added meat as they grew.
The basic elements of the band are here: Bono's soaring voice, while somewhat undisciplined, still is front and center, along with The Edge's rhythmic, jangly guitar landscapes.
The songs are simple and exude an energy and newness that must have seemed very odd for its time. It really doesn't sound like anything that was around then. That alone made some folks take notice.
Songs like I Will Follow, Stories For Boys, and Out Of Control have a certain innocence that evokes feelings of mourning for a diminishing youth. Other tracks have a slightly edgier (no pun intended) feel, such as the ethereal The Ocean, the sinister An Cat Dubh, and the foot-tapping The Electric Co. A Day without Me is a standout example of pure pop, with deceptive lyrics which seem to be about suicide.
The production is stark and clean, and the songs seem to bleed in and out of one another.
The only trouble is that the band's playing still has miles to grow, as do Bono and The Edge's writing skills. Also, about 2/3's of the way into the disc, the songs seem to all sound the same. The versatility wasn't there yet and some of the songs are forgettable. But it still works. It is a breath of fresh air at a time when music needed it. U2 may have still been flying under the radar, but they were creating a buzz. All in all, a great start for a great band.