Beginning with the iPod theme song, “Vertigo,” U2's latest release brims with that Rattle and Hum self-absorption fans of the band have been forced to come to grips with over the course of the past 14 years, with the notable exceptions of Achtung Baby and 2002's All That You Can't Leave Behind. Here, U2 attempt to strike a balance between their distant past and their perceived future, and they very nearly succeed. The Edge is allowed back in the driver's seat, accelerating each of the album's 11 songs with his trademark effects-soaked, chiming guitar figures.
He's backed by the comfortably predictable rhythm section that is Larry Mullen and Adam Clayton, who are perhaps as locked in as a drummer and bassist can be outside the world of funk. Bono navigates the entire affair with the same prophetic lyricism that made “Where the Streets Have No Name” a slightly mismatched anthem for slightly disenfranchised, aging Gen Xers trying desperately to remain hip while working their corporate 9-to-5s. What, after all, could be more ironic than a bunch of suited accountants stepping out of their Volvos ...
to listen awestruck to a rock band jamming on a rooftop, much to the chagrin of overfed police officers? The only problem is that Rattle and Hum happens to be one of U2's most overhyped mediocre releases to date—not exactly the benchmark a band with several bona fide masterpieces under their belt should necessarily shoot for as their remarkable career heads toward middle age. But even so, perfectly hewn songs like “City of Blinding Lights,” “All Because of You” and “Love and Peace or Else” make How to ... an extraordinary album.