Achtung Baby stands out as a masterpiece in U2's illustrious history. In this album, painfully ground out over a year of re-recording and re-inventing in 1990's Berlin, the power of U2's music is as direct and compelling as ever. The real beauty here, though, is the wit and intelligence of the music. This contrasts with their earlier music on the one hand, which tended to be naively honest, and their later work on the other which became almost a little too contrived. Achtung Baby is thus the album that best captures all that is good about U2 over their lifetime: a balance between the self-conscious cool and kitsch sounds of their later years, and the intensity and passion upon which they built their reputation.