U2 GETS SERIOUS WITH 'POP'

After a listen to U2's advance single, "Discotheque," one might expect other songs on their new album, "Pop," to also be upbeat, pulsating, and heavy on techno.

"Pop" is actually quite serious. It starts out loud, but it grows quieter and more intimate with each song. There are many references to God and Jesus, which at times sound like pleas for help from lead singer Bono - "Jesus, Jesus, help me/ I'm alone in this world," he moans on the album's closer, "Wake Up, Dead Man."

The album is very much of the moment, about American culture and finding meaning in a world of chaos. There are references to O.J. Simpson, talk shows, and Big Macs in "Playboy Mansion."

In techno-infused songs such as "Mofo" and "Do You Feel Loved," U2 uses samplers, drum machines, and synthesizers. The group started to experiment with these new sounds on its last two releases, "Achtung Baby" and "Zooropa," which can be partially credited to producer Flood (who has worked with Depeche Mode and the Smashing Pumpkins) and techno master Howie B.

The Dublin band may have a different sound from its glory days in the '80s, but longtime fans will be heartened by touches of old U2, including the beautiful ballad "If God Will Send His Angels" and the romantic "If You Wear That Velvet Dress." With pleasing pop tunes such as these, U2 will be around for a long time to come.

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