Top critical review
"Lookin for to fill that God-shaped hole..."
on August 24, 2002
Pop is an album of extreme contradictions. It is also U2's bleakest album: It finds Bono at his most cynical, and his most desperate. Nearly all of the songs are about losing ones faith in Love, God and Self. Put these sentiments, among Bono's most introspective, against the ridiculous backdrop of retro-American, Disco-trance produced Rock & Roll, and you have the enigma that is "Pop." At its best, the songs are irony-dripping adrenaline-pumping tunes with all the clever hooks and wit we've come to expect from U2 (Discotheque, Do You Feel Loved, Staring at the Sun, Staring at the Sun, Last Night on Earth, Please)- while at its worst are immature lyrical games with songs overproduced to within an inch of their sad lives (Miami, If You Wear that Velvet Dress, The Playboy Mansion.)
The songs that work (the ones mentioned above) make the album worthwhile, without a doubt! But some of these songs deserved much better. If God Will Send His Angels is beautiful and heartbreaking at its core; but it is garishly ill-conceived in its production. It would've worked much better as a straight, earnest 4-piece-band ballad. And Mofo had potential, but was so relentlessly overworked all its life was pounded out.
This album has some of the best songwriting U2 has ever had, which is why it's ultimately somewhat of a dissapointment. Never have they done so little with so much. Still, now it must be taken for what it is, and not what it should've been- and U2 have another disc in Pop that deserves many listens.