It seems rather than being fans of U2, most of these posts are from fans of an album or two. And to those who find it uncool to have critical acclaim or the acceptance of the mainstream-ATYCLB-but nevertheless are Achtung Baby fans; you're right Achtung Baby was a big flop with the critics, uhh, no, perhaps not. How does that fit in?
Don't be retarded. Most of the negative reviews for this album are from people who want U2 to do what they did from BOY through POP, which is progress. And make interesting, quality music - not turn into middle age soft rockers releasing the same inspirational, and inspirationless tunes out to an audience of ladies and mellowing older men. People liked Achtung Baby not because it was the cool thing to do - but because it's one of the best records ever made. Something that U2 is apparently finished striving for. There was a time when U2 did the unexpected. They wrote songs like The Wanderer, Mofo, and Wire. They released albums like Passengers and made videos like Lemon and Numb. Now they are predictable, yawn-inducing and the lyrics get cheesier and lazier by the album. That's what people are complaining about. If you like this album (or ATYCLB) - fine. It's OK for people to like them. But when statements are made about these albums being sub-par, it's all very truthful.
I am very much a U2 "fan" and have been for many many years, but they are testing my patience with boring and re-hashed music.
I'll try not to drool on myself, but I think your use of the word progress is subjective, and I also think alot of people might disagree with POP being a part of it, progress that is. When U2 say they are targeting "ladies"? and mellowing older men maybe I'll become bored as well. I understand your points-I do become embarrassed for Bono when I hear, "a mole digging in a hole", or "Hola!", but until we ca turn to U2 in the bizzaro world, it is after all,still U2.
I agree that progress is very subjective in regards to U2. I don't find the past two albums to be subpar at all and I found significant "progress" being made. Just because U2 acknowledges and embraces its past doesn't mean they've taken a step backward.
I love the U2 of the 90s. That's when I became a fan. Achtung Baby is a great album with a unifying theme. Same goes for Zooropa and I love the experimentation there. I believe POP is greatly undervalued and a very unique record. The conflict between faith and modern living is amazing to witness on POP. The divergence into experimentation that began with Achtung Baby had been taken to its limit. It was time to move on.
ATYCLB wasn't really a return to form because it sounds nothing like any other U2 albums. It was a fusion of the Achtung Baby era U2 with the Unforgettable Fire/Joshua Tree era U2 with some new stuff thrown in. Sure, Edge's chiming guitar is back in full force, but U2 is more than just that. The lyrics took on a more positive aspect concerning the world and U2 went from being negative to being positive. Atomic Bomb and ATYCLB are actually the two most positive U2 efforts ever made. One could argue that Unforgettable Fire was fairly positive, but there were some hard edges there. Joshua Tree was a record full of confusion and despair, though a great record. Rattle & Hum was really not full of anything. Achtung discussed marital and spiritual infidelity. Zooropa dealt with a world full of contradictions and craziness. POP was about the conflicts between faith and modern life.
ATYCLB and Bomb are largely positive. They have darker moments. Peace on Earth is one of those and a favorite of mine, but it is followed by a great response in When I Look At The World.
Bomb moved even further forward as U2 rediscovered the Boy, October, and War era, but they didn't merely emulate it. They added it to what they had learned from the Joshua Tree era and from the Achtung Baby era. There's some confusion here, as witnessed in Vertigo. There's sadness too, but there's also joy. It's really fascinating to witness the outlook on Bomb caused by Bono's father's death and his own aging. I truly do think that Atomic Bomb is the best record U2 has made to date. City of Blinding Lights is one of my favorite tracks ever. Original of the Species rates up there. Vertigo still gets me going.
U2 has changed direction once more. There is a more direct, compact writing style, but Bono's style has changed greatly over the years. He was more conversational early on and turned poetic during the time of Joshua Tree. There was an edginess during the Achtung era and it seems now he's become more open and direct again. Unlike the kid that he was during the Boy era, Bono actually understands himself much better so it's hardly a revisitation of the writing found on Boy, October, or War.
I too agree that progression is subjective. You might say that regression is their progression now (of course, that's just my opinion, man).
The last two albums are the sound of a band sprinting back to the past. Jumping back into your warm familiar bed because you're scared of the outside world or something. "Miracle Drug" is just "With or Without You" stapled to "Beautiful Day."