U2’s ‘Club-Sounding’ Album: A Return To Pop?

Though North American fans were denied their U2 concerts this summer, perhaps the time away from the road was the best thing that could have happened to Bono, the Edge, Larry Mullen Jr. and Adam Clayton. In a report from their return concert in Italy, Bono told Rolling Stone that the band is currently working on four different musical projects. There is Songs of Ascent (a second batch of tunes from the sessions for No Line on the Horizon), the music for the finally-going-to-open Broadway musical “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark,” another rock album and — in perhaps the most surprising and intriguing development — a “club-sounding album.” Bono told the magazine he hopes to have a new album out by the time the band returns to make up the canceled North American dates next spring, and that said album will likely be made up of a combination of those various projects.

That would be a shame, as an entire album that incorporates dance music would certainly be intriguing to anybody who followed U2 during their up-and-down adventures in the 1990s. After reinventing themselves as a dark art-rock juggernaut with 1991’s Achtung Baby, they began experimenting with a lot more electronic sounds (bassist Clayton, in particular, seemed especially entranced by the growing European club music scene that was giving rise to a number of hybrid acts at the time). U2’s “electronic era” is really a three-album triptych (think of them as interlocking pieces of the same musical puzzle, not unlike David Bowie’s “Berlin Trilogy”) that includes 1993’s Zooropa, 1995’s ambient Original Soundtracks 1 (credited to the Passengers) and 1997’s Pop. It’s the latter record that is the most interesting, as it was an active attempt to blend together their evolving rock sound with electronica (which was what everyone thought the future of music would be in 1997).

Though there are some noble tries (“Do You Feel Loved” and “Mofo” are particularly engaging), Pop was largely considered an artistic boondoggle, and even the band must have thought so, as 2000’s All That You Can’t Leave Behind found them going back to their old school. But a “club-sounding” album by U2 could be the big push that takes the current influx of dance music — with the likes of Tiesto, Deadmau5 and the like becoming huge international stars — and puts it squarely in the middle of pop and rock radio. Love them or hate them, U2 have always managed to keep things interesting and are always willing to push the envelope.

Do you like the idea of a “club-sounding” U2 album, or should they stick to what they know best? Let us know in the comments!

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