John Garratt: I’m familiar with the drill by this point—cultists and apologists insist that, when their favorite act releases new material, one must not gauge it against their old material. I think this is fair enough. U2 paid their dues a long time ago and are entitled to some critical peace (they can also stop feeling the need to ingratiate themselves to New York City). But try as I might, I simply can’t forget that time between 1991 and 1995 when the future seemed absurdly wide open for this band. Yes, “You’re the Best Thing About Me” is catchy and can get stuck in your brain. It’s also a band on autopilot. It’s vanilla ice cream with none of the toppings, which has been U2’s musical direction for the last 13 years. “The Fly” has been swatted away. “Zooropa” is now just a funny made-up word. “Your Blue Room” has been erroneously filed away as a b-side. What’s left is this, and it’ll likely be good enough for the cultists and apologists. [6/10]
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