"... I dare anyone to make a better rock record this year," Bono said early in 2000 of the album that would eventually be called All That You Can't Leave Behind. Those words have turned out to be the kind of self-fulfilling prophecy that would make Nostradamus green with envy. U2's new album has made numerous Best of 2000 lists and what follows is a sampling of comments from those lists.
The New York Times - Ann Powers - #1
"List-making - science, art or game? In the beginning, it's always personal. That my favorite band is huge again only makes loving it sweeter. This album's nondenominational gospel music is meant to move the world, yet at its best, it relays each listener's well-hidden prayer."
The Denver Post - G. Brown - #1
"U2's albums of the '90s were characterized by dense electronic add-ons, dance beats and ambient experiments. This earthier album finds the band leaving behind the irony and techno-pop invocations and reclaiming its focus on live musicianship. The songs recall U2's surging late-'80s expression - emotional, intense, sincere and brimming with confidence. A better work than anyone had a right to expect - and doesn't the concept of a band with a long career and devout lifelong fans seem quaint?"
People - #2
"Rock lives! Three years after releasing their last album, the self-parodying Pop, Bono, the Edge and the lads return revitalized with their unique, inspirational brand of heroic rock anthems."
Rolling Stone - #2
"U2 should forget irony, techno, that sort of thing; romance and passion are their bread and butter, and it's funny to hear them steal back some of their own guitar thunder from Radiohead."
Entertainment Weekly - David Browne - #2
"Just when the idea of a traditional rock band playing things called songs seemed hopelessly passé, along comes the unexpected bounce-back. Leaving his wraparound sunglasses at home, Bono aims to counsel and console, while the Edge and the boys aim for a middle ground between their old gravity and their latter-day sardonicism; all achieve their goals on an album of assured, stick-to-the-ribs rock & roll."
The New York Times - Neil Strauss - #4
"The Edge, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen return to spirit-raising, guitar-loving, stick-and-drum-banging rock 'n' roll while Bono sets aside his worries about K-Mart culture to tackle greater problems vying for the human soul. A powerful, uplifting album that doubles as a self-help manual."
The Los Angeles Times - Robert Hilburn - #6
"If you are going to measure every album by The Joshua Tree/Achtung Baby standard, there isn't going to be much to cheer about each year. By mortal standards, however, U2's return-to-its-roots collection soars - from the uplifting Walk On, the best rock radio anthem of the year, to the reflective Peace on Earth. The music carries the elegance and heart of rock at its most inspirational." (The album appeared on 7 of the 17 LA Times pop music contributors' Ten Best lists.)
Edmonton Sun - Mike Ross - #10
"For those who think The Joshua Tree was overrated, this may be the best U2 ever. I think I'm in the minority on this one."
Spin - #20
"You can have all the funny sounds your brain desires, but wrap them with melodies, hooks, and a sense that you still care to touch your audience's hearts, and the result might actually be a warm, relaxed album that doesn't have to be justified by ogling Autechre or donning sci-fi sunglasses."
Q4Music.com includes the album in its Top 50 of 2000, an alphabetical listing. To that end, Mark Blake summed it all up nicely in Q's four-star review. "Certainly, not since The Joshua Tree have U2 sounded so like U2 but, with songs of this startling caliber, right now being U2 is no bad thing."
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