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Additional personnel: Steve Osborne, Howie B., Flood, Marius De Vries (keyboards); Ben Hillier (programming).
Engineers: Mark "Spike" Stent, Howie B., Alan Moulder.
Recorded at South Beach Studios, Miami, Florida; Hanover, Windmill Lane Recording Studios and The Works, Dublin, Ireland.
POP was nominated for a 1998 Grammy for Best Rock Album.
Like much pop music in the mid-1990s, POP is cobbled together out of buzzy synthesizers and reverberant keyboards, techno drum loops and funky live drums, guitars distorted into clouds of metal, vocals you sometimes have to work to hear, and songs that seek God and sex and other important stuff in the world's trash heaps. And it's obsessed, more than anything else, with pop itself. At its most frisky, as on the dance-club single "Discotheque," POP sounds like Oasis backed by the Chemical Brothers (see that combo's recent single "Setting Sun" for comparison). Drop the club beat and add a bright acoustic guitar, as on "Staring At The Sun," and POP sounds like, well, Oasis.
This is the kind of future-pop U2 introduced on its watershed 1991 album ACHTUNG, BABY, and POP completes a sort of trilogy. Whereas 1993's ZOOROPA played up the "art" side of this experiment, POP, which finds art-rock influence Brian Eno gone from the producer's seat and techno wiz kid Howie B. taking up some of his space, plays up the pop side. It's the most playful album U2 has ever made, with grooves made for dancing, not thinking, and melodies that explode in your face like bubblegum. Lyrically, U2 is still looking for what it hasn't found, in such places as nouveau-riche "Miami" and the celebrity trash receptacle that is "The Playboy Mansion." Musically, though, U2 seems to have found it, in the simple, ecstatic click of a dance beat.
What the critics say...
Rolling Stone (3/20/97, pp.81-83) - 4 Stars (out of 5) - "...a record whose rhythms, textures and visceral guitar mayhem make for a thrilling roller-coaster ride, one whose sheer inventiveness is plainly bolstered by the heavy involvement of techno/trip-hop wizard Howie B..."
Spin (4/97, p.153) - 9 (out of 10) - "...No, U2 haven't crafted a garden of hooks....Rather, they've turned a slightly cold eye to an uncertain, end-of-the-century moment, when dueling genres often can't pronounce each other's names, everyone dances to techno-inspired stuff by night, and no one remembers what constitutes a pop hit..."
Entertainment Weekly (3/7/97, pp.62-64) - "...Despite its glittery launch, the album is neither trashy nor kitschy, nor is it junky-fun dance music. It incorporates bits of the new technology--a high-pitched siren squeal here, a sound-collage splatter there--but it is still very much a U2 album..."
- Rating: B
Q (1/98, p.115) - Included in Q Magazine's "50 Best Albums of 1997."
Village Voice (2/24/98) - Ranked #31 in the Village Voice's 1997 Pazz & Jop Critics' Poll.
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- 2 used from $5.50
Comments: Excellent condition.
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