Sound — 9
This is U2's third album, and the one that really put these four guys from Dublin, Ireland in the limelight. The band stuck to the same anthemish rock sound as the previous two albums (Boy and October), but with more energy, more emotion, and more polish. I'll take a look at each song one by one.
01. Sunday Bloody Sunday - One of the two big hits off the album, and a great opener. Some nice military sounding drumming by Larry Mullen, Jr. Kicks off the song and keeps it going through the whole thing. The Edge lays down a great guitar riff, one of the best on the album. Great vocals too.
02. Seconds - ok song. Very beat driven, with a nice bass line and good, but a little dodgy vocals, but repetitive and a little boring. Interesting Lyrics and a random sound bite from a movie in the middle.
03. New Years Day - the other hit. Great intro on piano leads into a somewhat mysterious sound for the verse. The guitar work showcases the Edge's style. He plays simple and percussive parts and creates a very atmospheric sound. He takes a solo, but not to show off. Good vocals again.
04. Like A Song... - a more rocking song with really great drumming, even a drum solo of sorts at the end. There are some nice riffs in here. Not a very well known song, but it deserves to be.
05. Drowning Man - a slow, acoustic guitar and vocal driven track. Pretty boring and repetetive. But a pretty impressive vocal performance by Bono.
06. The Refugee - cool, ethnic sounding drumming and guitar. The vocals are a bit of a letdown during the verses, but I still enjoy this song. Gets the tempo back up after Drowning Man.
07. Two Hearts Beat As One - great intro, Adam Clayton's best bass line on the album. Another really nice vocal delivery by Bono, but I really dislike the harmony vocals in the chorus. This is one of the most rocking, uptempo songs on the album, and definitely worth checking out.
08. Red Light - ok song. This has some nice riffs, great singing, backing vocals from some girls, and a trumpet solo. Yeah, that deserves all caps because it's great and totally unexpected. Otherwise unremarkable, however.
09. Surrender - more of the same midtempo guitar-driven stuff as Red Light, but no trumpet. I usually skip over this one.
10. 40 - the end of the album. A nice, slow track with beautiful vocals. The perfect "ending" kind of feel, used to end concerts during this era of the band.
Lyrics — 9
Bono is an incredible singer. He's got a huge range (listen to Drowning Man), can sing the rockin songs and the ballads equally well, and really brings the emotions across. I personally think his vocals sound the best during this period of the band's existence, from the beginning up until The Joshua Tree. Bono's lyrics are a famous part of the band for being very political and/or religious. He always delivers his message well. The lyrics can be topical, like in Sunday Bloody Sunday (about a terrorist attack in Ireland) or The Refugee (about immigration), or they can be personal like Drowning Man, or tell a story, like Surrender. Sometimes they can be a little goofy, like in seconds, but overall, Bono's singing and lyrics are near perfect on this album.
Overall Impression — 10
"War" remains one of my favorite U2 albums, and it was the one the one that got me into the band. Definitely recommended for anyone who's looking to get into U2, and rock/alt-rock fans in general. If my copy were lost/stolen, I would Hulk out and smash several major cities in the Tri-State Area in my search for a new copy. iTunes cheapskates should buy Sunday Bloody Sunday, New Year's Day, Like a Song..., The Refugee, Two Hearts Beat as One, and 40.