"At home in the in-between"

There's a U2 retrospective up on Slate today that's worth reading. While I think it misses the point or overgeneralizes in a couple of places, some really thoughtful material makes it in along the way. Excerpt:
In the end, U2 won for losing. They went on to accomplish what few artists—and very few rock acts—have ever succeeded in doing: wholesale transformation. Influenced by trends in industrial metal, Manchester rave rock, and synthetic soul, 1991’s Achtung Baby ought to have been a spectacular failure. But rather than a desperate bid for cool (Bono’s “Fly” shades aside), the album has the disarming feel of a psychological breakthrough. Recorded in Berlin as that city noisily emerged from the Cold War, the album asserted tentativeness, from the Edge’s spindly, impatient vibrations—every minute he tries on another idea, another gesture—to Bono’s spooky, fragile falsetto. Righteous posturing gives way to twisted love songs and surrealistic similes. On stage the band abandoned bighearted largesse for ironic indulgence, but the pose couldn’t mask the excitable bewilderment of the music. The album’s closing hymn answers “Amazing Grace” in the negative, upending Bono’s (and Christendom’s [well, at least kataphatic Christendom's? -ed]) favorite metaphor. “Love is blindness,” he insists, cooing and cracking. “I don’t want to see. Won’t you wrap the night around me?”

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