U2 Zooropa (Island)

The U2 Catalog

Record Reviews

U2

Zooropa (Island)

Zooropa is U2's accidental album. The band headed into its Dublin studio as a means of staying fresh between the fall '92 and spring '93 legs of the never-ending Zoo TV tour, and wound up recording enough material for a new LP. If it's not quite on the same plateau as U2's best albums, it nonetheless reveals the band's creative energies in overdrive. Venturing even further into Euro-experimental territory than its predecessor Achtung Baby, Zooropa finds U2's reach sometimes exceeding its grasp (the pulsing "Lemon" is at least two songs rolled into one), while other instances ("Numb," "Dirty Day") find the band striking an almost perfect balance between the avant-garde and tried and true. The title track is a vast, disembodied travelogue through the intoxicating dystopia that was the early Nineties, just as the pristine "Babyface" and lush "The First Time" are captivating in their cohesiveness, perhaps the first stirrings of the urge to simplify that would eventually yield All That You Can't Leave Behind. The quietly pleading "Stay (Faraway So Close!)" is simply one of the best songs they've ever written, and the anvil-like beat of "Daddy's Gonna Pay for Your Crashed Car" is all-consuming in its urgency. Perhaps the greatest testament to Zooropa's enduring quality is that one of U2's greatest Nineties triumphs, the devastating "Hold Me Thrill Me Kiss Me Kill Me," began its life as an outtake from this album.

***.5

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