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More influenced than ever by co-producer-conceptualist Brian Eno, their music now parallels his in its pursuit of ambience.

Following up their earthshaking "Achtung Baby," "Zooropa" further embellishes the new model U2. These are the superstars, after all, who audaciously reinvented themselves on their ninth album exchanging chiming guitar for funkier riffing and dense, hip-hop-meets-industrial production, unrestrained wailing for insinuating talk-singing, fever for a bubbling heat. "Zooropa," their 10th outing, emphasizes the shift: Instead of the mythic, desert-landscape cover shot of "The Joshua Tree" (1987), there's deconstructed video imagery; for the desperate spiritual questing of "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For," they substitute the monochromatic dead-end musings of "Numb." They've found what they weren't looking for and are trying to learn how to live with it.

Following up their earthshaking "Achtung Baby," "Zooropa" further embellishes the new model U2. These are the superstars, after all, who audaciously reinvented themselves on their ninth album exchanging chiming guitar for funkier riffing and dense, hip-hop-meets-industrial production, unrestrained wailing for insinuating talk-singing, fever for a bubbling heat. "Zooropa," their 10th outing, emphasizes the shift: Instead of the mythic, desert-landscape cover shot of "The Joshua Tree" (1987), there's deconstructed video imagery; for the desperate spiritual questing of "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For," they substitute the monochromatic dead-end musings of "Numb." They've found what they weren't looking for and are trying to learn how to live with it.

More influenced than ever by co-producer-conceptualist Brian Eno, the de facto fifth member whom U2 first employed on "The Unforgettable Fire" (1984), their music now parallels his in its pursuit of ambience. But in contrast to the gentle detachment of Eno's worldview (a kind of determined naivete or a brainy guy's wish for instinct), theirs now is one of an alert wariness, suspicion, threat.
"Lemon," "Daddy's Gonna Pay for Your Crashed Car," "Dirty Day" - this is smart, compelling, daring music that is also very demanding. With "The Wanderer" and its unsurpassable guest vocal by Johnny Cash, they step back and let a voice that transcends contemporary bleakness intone. It's the man in black speaking in the tough moral voice of an Old Testament prophet. Cash sounds more human than anything else in the post-apocalyptic zone of Zooropa, an echo chilling in its intimations of irretrievable loss.

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