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U2

All that you can't leave behind, indeed: A less oblique title for this well-worth-the-wait disc might be something like, What Comes Around Goes Around.

Bono and company open with a soaring, radio-friendly anthem, "Beautiful Day," that might have come from any of U2's first three echo-and-reverb-laden outings. "Stuck in a Moment That You Can't Get Out Of" provides a "Pride"-style anthem for this dark time, while "Peace on Earth" visits Bono's longstanding humanitarian and religious interests.

Other tunes give subtle nods to inspirations like the Velvet Underground and contemporaries like REM; notably in the case of "Wild Honey," they even admit a little humor into U2's normally portentous proceedings.

It's a lean, back-to-the-basics effort that shines with intelligence and superb musicianship, with Bono shedding his former cast of personae in favor of the one that suits him best: Rock Star for the New Millennium. It's a keeper.

More by Gregory McNamee

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