This record belongs to that rare set of film scores that are so evocative, so literate, and so compelling, that you hardly need the film. Thing is, this isn't a proper film score, now is it? It's a bit of a score, a bit of a soundtrack (ie, a compilation of individual songs), and a bit of a U2 album. It is a real testament to all involved--U2, Bono and his MDH Band, and assorted producers, musicians, and artists covering other peoples' material--that it all makes sense, everyone sounding like a brilliant thread in somebody else's tapestry. Because this record *does* have a "the whole is greater than the sum of it's parts" appeal--welcome to the world of Wim Wender's soundtracks!
U2 show they know how to apply themselves to an emotional moment, because yes the new songs sound like U2, but no, they don't sound like they could have come off another album. The previous material they included fits nicely, using Milla Jovovich's peculiar and unforeseeably perfect vocal acrobatics to expand one of their favourite covers, "Satellite of Love;" and Daniel Lanois and the MDH Band reveal a whole new beauty to "The First Time" in their reprise of that song. Bono's sans-U2 contributions are first-rate--he practically acts all the characters and moods with his voice, but not in a hokey way. There is a real emotional, as well as musical, complexity to this album. Cheers to all the additional musicians. This album begins with a soaring, distinctly U2 embodiment of a Salman Rushdie poem, and ends with a nearly out-of-control Spanish version of the Sex Pistol's "Anarchy in the USA," and packs inbetween things old (previous U2 work), new (MDH Band), borrowed (Velvet Underground, movie dialogue, etc.), and blue (that fabulous trumpet!), never once making a musical or emotional misstep. What a marriage!