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U2

The thing about pop music these days is that there just aren't bands of the same caliber as U2 anymore. It's all about solo vocalists, and most major-label bands are vapid copycats. If you want emotional complexity and innovation, you gotta go indie, and the independent music circuit isn't designed to handle rock stars. The music industry just doesn't have quality supergroups anymore, especially politically active supergroups, probably because they spend more time creating them than discovering them.

U2 is one of the last remaining supergroups of the old guard. Their more recent records--How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb included--surrender to their original guitar-driven sound, and they've returned from their electronica journey with supergroup gusto. The result is classic, timeless rock--subtly political, beautifully produced and epic, just the way a U2 record should be.

The first track, "Vertigo," is brilliant in its simplicity; on Saturday Night Live a couple weeks ago, the band performed the song with just one guitar, bass and drums, and it still had that catchiness that we all know so well from the iPod commercials. "Miracle Drug" begins with the Edge's signature guitar sound--sweet and bright, soaked in chorus. "City of Blinding Lights" has every familiar U2 element, and when Bono sings, "Everywhere you go you shout it," in "Original of the Species," he might as well be standing on a rooftop, singing his heart out, as the wind from the helicopter with the camera blows his hair back and his shirt open.

More by Annie Holub

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