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4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 4 March 2015
Just caught up with this album nearly 20 years after its release. Back in the late 80's early 90's U2 were my favourite band. Achtung Baby! caught me completely by surprise and I wasn't too sure about it. Zooropa which followed just turned me off....and I never bought Pop. However recently I have been revisiting my U2 collection; mainly because I have discovered Japanese produced and mastered CDs which do wonders to old classic albums.

I re-bought Achtung Baby!, Rattle And Hum and The Joshua Tree on Japanese CDs and they have never sounded so good. The sound is clear, rich and deep - making the albums sound young and new again. I never liked the production on European/American U2 CDs because they sound flat and tinny. However the Japanese versions are *much* better.

So with that in mind and having read through the reviews here at Amazon I thought I would give Pop a try and Zooropa a second chance. Now get this: about 70% of the soundscape on Pop is below the mid-tone. It is deep and bassy. The sort of sounds that a European/American produced CD would not pick up. However on the Japanese version (such as PHCR-1835) it sounds fantastic. It also really helps that I have a Bose Wave CD player which is really sensitive to bass.

My suspicion is that the great sonic soundscape of Pop falls flat on poorly produced CDs and cheaper CD players. Maybe I'm mistaken; but that is my guess. You need the quality sound for the album to shine through. Having said that the album sounded brilliant to me. It is full of bluesy electronica and rhythmic rock. Sort of like The Stones meets Kraftwerk. Some real original sounds and melodies coming through.

The songs are in the league of Achtung Baby! but with the Zooropa twist to them. Personally I feel this album may be re-evaluated in the future and be recognised for the classic it is.
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on 19 November 2011
For me POP is the last special U2 album.After this they just produced ordinary sounding music without that something special that made U2 so,well special.Such a shame because i always looked forward to every new release the band came out with.
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on 15 July 2004
Many fans and especially rock-critics slated this album when it first appeared back in 1997, due in part to U2's previous diversions into pulsating electronica & wayward experimentation - with career peak Achtung Baby setting something of a template, whilst the criminally underrated Zooropa followed to even greater disdain, before the band even went as far as to dash off a full-experimental album under the pseudonym, The Passengers. The negativity also had a lot to do with the era that this was released... with 1997 being the apex of Britpop; a time when bands were supposed to be playing things down, going for the stadiums and producing the kind of music that drunken louts could sing-along to with their lighters out. It was certainly no time to be embracing a band that performed on the roofs of supermarkets with giant TV screens, costume changes and a 10 ft luminous lemon.
The music press would evoke notions of progressive-rock and cite self-indulgence as the cause of the band's behaviour and, as a result of this negativity, ticket & album sales began to dwindle, prompting the band to disappear once more... then - faster than you could say Joshua Tree - they returned with a new album of straight rock ballads and a MOR sound that the critics and fans, unsurprisingly, devoured with glee. I see this as a shame really, since the albums produced during this era (1990-1998) represent the peak of U2; coming across as edgy and creative, without prostituting their sense of melody and expert musicianship. Pop would be both the summation and the climax of this period, with half the songs sounding intense, free-wheeling and utterly post-modern, whilst the other half of the album seemed like a compromise, with those typical 80's style U2 ballads creeping in; but advanced on, by the inclusion of dance-beats and state of the art production.
This is hardly a problem though, as the ballads remain amongst my favourite tracks on the album... whilst the overall sound of the record is great. I remember the first time I saw the video for lead-off single (and first track on the album) Discothèque and thought it was the most amazing thing I'd ever seen or heard in my life... with the band gleefully parodying the Village People, whilst female dancers in skin-tight body-suits paraded around under mirror-balls and strobe-lights! The guitar sound is great, with the Edge taking the whole song into the realms of funk, with dirty distorted bar-chords continuing the fuzzy sound developed in the production, whilst Bono's vocals alternate between growls and falsetto, to enliven his nonsense lyrics. Next track, Do You Feel Loved? seems like an attempt to ape the previous track, whilst also calming things down a little... though, in all honesty, it lacks focus and, to some extent, sits uneasily in front of track three, the blistering and funked-up Mofo! The production here is intense, as the dance rhythms return, pulsating from left to right speaker as the Edge does some of his most subtle-distorted guitar work since Zoo Station from Achtung Baby.
This leads into the first, for lack of a better word, U2 ballad, If God Will Send his Angels, which points towards future tracks like Stuck in a Moment (& that one with Samantha Morton in the video), whilst also looking back to classics like With or Without You & Bad. Once again, the production is great, whilst the use of instrumentation (the drums and guitar are the standouts) create a languid and melancholic atmosphere for Bono to croon over. The next two tracks were both singles and remain my favourite tracks on the album, with Staring at the Sun following the same aural design as the previous track, with striped down instrumentation highlighted by the bells & whistles of Steve Osborne's production and the Edge's always interesting guitar work. For all it's musical memento though, the lyrics are perhaps Bono's most simplistic ever, with the chorus, "you're not just deaf and dumb, staring at the sun, I'm not the only one..." being worlds away from some of the oblique, poetic couplets from Achtung Baby tracks like The Fly and Acrobat. Last Night on Earth is even better though, and has probably the dirtiest guitar riff in U2 history, or at least, one that brings to mind something like Even Better than the Real Thing or Numb.
From this point things begin to lose their way a little, with certain elements failing to come together, or various ideas and ideologies feeling strained or incomplete. I personally think this is where the record company started to step in and U2 felt the pressure to deliver that trademark 80's sound, so rebelled with something that was slightly more out-there, in terms of funk and dance stylings, though, were maybe a little more half-arsed with it than some of their earlier experiments. I don't know. Maybe they were just getting bored. At any rate, songs like Miami and The Playboy Mansion are a little off the mark, and don't really hold up to the songs that came before, whilst If You Wear that Velvet Dress is possibly the biggest waste of a great title on a mediocre song in the history of pop (no pun!). It takes the song Please to finally restore some order, and a classic Achtung Baby sound, and it leads us nicely into the final track, Wake Up Dead Man, which remains another highpoint from this album.
Pop still has some problems, largely in it's cohesion and in it's track sequencing, and really, there were probably better songs laying around the studio than Miami and Do You Feel Loved? However, it has dated brilliantly, with the overall sound seeming completely alien, even when we compare it to similar electro-dance-arty-types like Goldfrapp and even the post-punk indebted likes of the Rapture and Franz Ferdinand. Half the tracks are absolute classics, whilst the other half, though miles away from some of their previous master-pieces, still have a lot of interesting elements that do become enjoyable with repeated listens. Pop may be something of a come down following the euphoric highs of Achtung Baby and Zooropa, though, suffice to say, it's certainly a more worthwhile purchase than 2000's supposed return to form, All That You Can't Leave Behind.
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on 3 March 2006
I own every U2 album and this one is without question my favourite. I know the band have pretty much disowned it but Pop has some of the strongest material they ever produced.
Its a shame they lost their bottle after this and went back to the stadium rock that the majority of fans wanted. Achtung Baby, Zooropa and Pop were taking the band in a much more creative, experimental direction. The music was completely cut loose from the bombast that U2 has been associated with. Pop put texture and depth to the sound, Edge clearly is having a field day in this.
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on 29 November 2012
Achtung Baby felt like an album full of hope and belief in a better world after the fall of communism. Zooropa and the 2 year tour felt like a party where we all got drunk on that hope and belief. By comparison, Pop felt like the hangover after the party where everyone starts to realise that the hope was misplaced and that nothing much has really changed. A great album, nonetheless. It's almost as if the party is carrying on but nobody really believes in it anymore, hence the change of mood.
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on 19 October 2000
If the glam rockers of the 1970s could come back now, after the musical changes from the last two decades, someone like Slade would be releasing singles like those on POP. Though to say that the whole album can be generalised like this would be wrong.
The most noticable difference in U2 since their late 1980s albums has been the difference in 'mood' in their songs. Gone were the love songs, and small political messages towards the US, now the band were digging at commercialism and consumerism. Along with this change, Larry Mullen Jr (the U2 Drum machine) has evolved with the times, and this is very noticable on POP - it's U2 to a different beat.
The songs... aha, what was that 'Discotheque' all about? Well, it was OK wasn't it? 'Please', 'God will send his angels', 'staring at the sun'... You've probably heard them. However, 'Miami' and 'Mofo' could be the most experimental songs on there, both with beats to die for and 'sing-a-long-a whatever' lyrical mix.
Basically, some people will be disapointed with the fact that this album, along with Achtung Baby and Zooropa, is not the Joshua Tree. However, it isn't 1987 - so U2 should be commended for their way of making new music, and not the way they don't make the same past successes all over again....
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on 2 November 2002
U2 have done it again with this album - tracks such as Discotheque, MOFO....oh forget it!! All of them!!!! Reveal a side not seen from U2 since the ZooRopa tour, their take on disco, dance and the haunting ballard of "If You Wear That Velvet Dress" are riveting to hear and you never tire of them - which for me if youre still listening to an album a few months after it's release then it's good, if youre still listening to the album a few YEARS after it's release then its a classic, which I am and this is!!
The music goes from dancey to electro to a complete change of mood and sees Bono coping very well with the slower and more personal songs in a fashion only U2 do so well.
A must buy even years after its release, you wont be let down unlike "All that you can't leave behind"!!
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on 15 July 2004
U2 are a band that have staked their claim in the rock hall of fame long before this album - so it was always going to be difficult to live up to the hype that success brings. "Pop" is an album that starts of with the class "discotheque" - a song that has an unmistakable riff. From tracks 1-3, the electronic influence come in heavily - but with great success - Track 3 (mofo) a particular good one. However, this album is one of the most introspective yet as well - tracks like "If God will send his angels" and "Velvet dress" are hidden gems that carry so much depth. Well worth investing in - if only to appreciate the endless talent of this brilliant band.
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on 6 November 2006
So, the bizarre tale of 90s U2: they decamp to Berlin, struggle, come up with "One", make a whole album in Dublin afterwards, avoid splitting up and garner huge critical acclaim. They go on a huge world tour, the insanity that was ZOOTV, and in the middle of it, Bono announces to the band that they can make an album during a tour break ("I think everybody laughed at that"- Edge). Amazingly, they do. And then...a four year wait.

Out of it came POP, an album apparently not finished, an album that apparently didn't sell, and whose tour was a disaster. Which depends on your view. Considering how often songs get remixed, is any album finished nowadays? Is seven million copies and counting really failure? Can a tour have gone badly wrong if it enters the Guinness Book of Records?

POP has taken a lot of retrospective stick, and as other reviewers here point out, that's not really justified. It's not the alienated Kid A moment that it's often portrayed as- at worst, you have to cope with a song being (gasp) nearly six minutes. Ultimately, this is one of U2's greatest records, and I'm hoping the band aren't permanently discouraged from doing something so obviously envelope-pushing yet accessable again.

Highlights: Discotheque- a swirl of sonic...swirliness? And the best. Guitar. Riff. Ever. MOFO- huge sounding. Achtung Baby saw Bono's songwriting shift up a level; this saw it shift up further. Last Night On Earth- the point where the album gets very dark.

Low points: The middle of the album seems a wee bit too "normal" after the madness of the opening three songs.

Track by Track:
Discotheque 10
Do You Feel Loved? 8
If God Will Send... 7
Staring At The Sun 8
Last Night On Earth 10
Gone 8
Miami 7
The Playboy... 7
If You Wear... 8
Please 8
Wake Up Dead Man 8
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on 10 February 2009
Excellent album by U2 and easily one of their best! It's called Pop and many think it's all dance music. As a 19 year old rock music fan who despises pop and dance music I can easily say the whole album is 100% rock and roll.... well maybe 90%! Mofo and Miami are the only real "techno" songs here, but they're even good songs too. Apart from that it's business as usual!

Why nobody bought it is a mystery. Please buy it and get it's sales past double figures!
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