Quick Review (LP): The Unforgettable Fire by U2

The Unforgettable Fire
Island; 1985

My Rating: A- (83/100)

Best Tracks: "A Sort of Homecoming", "Pride", "Wire", "Bad", "The Unforgettable Fire"

No spoken words, just a dream…

– This was their Kid A moment, an attempt to completely re-define themselves in a manner that could potentially alienate their core fanbase. 
– A record that is simulatenously beautiful and bloated, wrought with meaning and somewhat meandering, a blockbuster and a headscratcher.
– No one can front-load a record like U2.
– The great moments (tracks 1,2,3,4,7) are great enough to lift the tide, and all of the non-great moments sort of drift by in a pleasant Eno-ish experimental haze anyhow.
– I like what Bono has to say about the album: "The Unforgettable Fire was a beautifully out-of-focus record, blurred like an impressionist painting, very unlike a billboard or an advertising slogan." I’m not entirely sure that this means they weren’t just lazy and/or indecisive, but after a lot of years of being unsure how I felt about this album, I now really like it. It’s especially fitting for overcast spring days.
– "A Sort of Homecoming" marks a complete change of direction for U2. Mullen and Clayton do great things rhythmically. It’s also one of my all-time favorite U2 songs.
– "Elvis Presley and America" is perhaps the most indicative of where the band was at with this album. They seem to have been willing to follow their muse just about anywhere, and this particular track is an improvisation over the slowed-down backing track of another song.
– I like the fact that these songs are said to be about things that they aren’t really about, ie "The Unforgettable Fire", "Bad".
– I also like the fact that this record was intended to feel unfinished. Additionally, Eno’s made a good call by having Clayton and Mullen dial it back a few notches. That creates the sonic soil for The Edge and Bono to do their thing.
– My estimation of this record keeps improving. It’s pivotal, mysterious, and never completely gives it self away.
From Pitchfork, an excellent review: "The first song on 1984’s The Unforgettable Fire is called "A Sort of Homecoming"– not just "A Homecoming". And that shade of uncertainty– that "sort of"– is key. Compared to U2’s first three albums– and almost everything that has come afterward– The Unforgettable Fire is marked by a sketchy in-between-ness that works as a gracious foil to the the band’s natural audacity. It’s sort of stadium rock, sort of experimental, sort of spiritual, sort of subdued, sort of uncharacteristic, sort of brilliant, sort of a classic." 
DELUXE EDITION FAVES: "A Sort of Homecoming (live)", "Love Comes Tumbling", "The Three Sunrises", "Bass Trap", "Disappearing Act". This is the band’s best b-sides era. The four I’ve listed here are truly excellent, and any serious U2 fan should be familiar with them.

Cohesion (5/5)
Concept (5/5)
Consistency (3.5/5)
Consequence (5/5)
Songs (4.5/5)

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