Metascore
79

Generally favorable reviews - based on 17 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 13 out of 17
  2. Negative: 0 out of 17
  1. As hopelessly antiquated as it may sound in the year 2000, it's as if they decided it was time to write and record an album of very good, extremely substantial traditional rock songs with an underlying inspirational bent.... the new work focuses on songs, not sonic gimmicks, and the difference is palpable.
  2. They woke up one day, glanced around a marketplace where art wasn't mega anymore, and figured that since they'd been calling themselves pop for half of their two-decade run, maybe they'd better sit down and write some catchy songs. So they did.
  3. Now, as the group starts its third decade, U2 has found what it's looking for is good music, songs that ring with melody and hooks -- and meaning -- while still weaving in some of the ambient and electronic textures it explored on releases such as Achtung Baby, Zooropa, and Pop. The result is a richly crafted and filler-free pop album on which each song sounds like an individual work, calling to mind mid-period Beatles titles such as Rubber Soul.
  4. U2 albums are generally slow growers, so it's much too early to label All That You Can't Leave Behind a classic. One can say with reasonable certainty that it's their most vibrant offering since Achtung Baby, their hardest-rocking one since The Joshua Tree, and their first true soul recording.
  5. All That You Can't Leave Behind is a rock record from a band that absorbed all the elastic experimentation, studio trickery, dance flirtations, and genre bending of Achtung, Zooropa, and Pop -- all they've shed is the irony. U2 also chooses not to delve as darkly personal as they did on Achtung or Zooropa, yet they also avoid the alienating archness of Pop, choosing to return to the generous spirit that flowed through their best '80s records.
  6. Stepping outside of their natural environment ensured their longevity in the '90s, stepping back in seems to have given them a fresh boost. For all Zooropa and Pop's pushing of the envelope, limiting themselves to rock's core ingredients has given the band a new challenge. Certainly, not since The Joshua Tree have U2 sounded so like U2 but, with songs of this startling calibre, right now being U2 is no bad thing.
  7. U2's tenth studio album and third masterpiece, All That You Can't Leave Behind, is all about the simple melding of craft and song.... The album represents the most uninterrupted collection of strong melodies U2 have ever mounted, a record where tunefulness plays as central a role as on any Backstreet Boys hit.... Every track -- whether reflective but swinging, like "Wild Honey," or poised, then pouncing, like "Beautiful Day" -- honors a tune so refined that each seems like some durable old number. Because this is U2, there's a quick impact to these melodies, yet each song has a resonance that doesn't fade with repeated listening.
  8. The chaotic electronic density of U2's last few efforts has been replaced by sticky, bite-size tunes -- sporting candy-sweet choruses that are often underlined by unabashed words of love.
  9. It's full of anthemic songs with echoing guitar, catchy choruses, and the kind of spacious production Daniel Lanois and Brian Eno also brought to The Joshua Tree.
  10. 80
    Call it the happy aftermath of a midlife crisis. U2 is relaxing, reasserting some beliefs critics love to shove back in their face--most importantly, that uplifing art is not necessarily dumb. [12/2000, p.233]
  11. All That You Can't Leave Behind returns to the grand gestures of old. Practically every song a potential hit single. Soulful, exuberant, at peace with its own clichés, this is one U2 record that will never be called antianything.... Call it their R.E.M. album, monster rock filtered through a sophisticate's restraint.
  12. The bottom-line is that while All is a good album, it isn't a great one.... All largely rides somewhere in the '80s, hitting a few heights (the ruminative "New York"), while occasionally missing the target altogether ("Peace on Earth").
  13. The band neither succeeds wildly nor fails. There are only a few reminders of the lackluster dance sounds in its recent work... Otherwise, what dominates are the straight-ahead rhythms that drove the early days.
  14. Despite the almost universal hyperbole that has greeted 'All That You Can't Leave Behind', this is no masterpiece. Certainly not by U2's stratospheric standards.
  15. 60
    Although devoted fans will welcome this straight-down-the-middle approach with open arms, those on the fringes who were intrigued by their tinkering will find it lacks some of the vibrancy of their recent artistic adventurousness.
  16. Ten albums into its career, U2's emphasis on its basics--chiming guitars, a war-themed lament here and there, the enormous choruses of songs like "Beautiful Day"--is a refreshing reminder of the group's core virtues. But in terms of execution, it splits about 50-50 between soaring hits and dispiriting misses.
  17. Subtle breakbeat drumming and glistening guitar be damned, Bono will ruin a song. And so the story goes for the entire album-- one of the band's finest, if not for the tweeting and hooting of The Fly and his grating lyrics.
User Score
7.6

Generally favorable reviews- based on 99 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 35 out of 49
  2. Negative: 12 out of 49
  1. Apr 1, 2014
    9
    Beautiful Day (9.25) I remember my Dad playing this song alot in the car when I was in middle school. And while it's new U2 I really love it because it's a great song to play if you are having a great day. The guitar riffs are great in the song. He talks about traveling and I feel when the change in the the lyrics hits and tone of the instruments change at the end is the best part. 'What you don't have you don't need it now' is my favorite line.

    Stuck In a Moment You Can't Get Out Of (8.5) I really like this song because it really raises the problem alot that people have letting things go that they care about. The tempo is soothing and calm and the vocals change throughout the song subtly and shows U2's artistic prowess. The main reason I gave this song a 8.5 was because of the unique subject it brought up.

    Elevation (8.5) This song really has good use of electonica/synth guitar and the vocals in the beginning that Bono uses makes the song unique. How the chorus hits really is why this song is good I think. I think this is the the standard in why songs are deemed good by people who appreciate good music.

    Walk On (9.25) I really love this song, especially when the the instruments hit in the beginning and those four guitar notes as well as the solo in the middle of the song. What I really take away from the title of the song and lyrics is to walk away from your problems and to try and maintain your sanity the best you can. I've tried to move away from Ohio with this song playing so many times and I can't. The whole identity of the song changes near the end and my favorite line Bono says is 'You've got to leave it behind.'

    Kite (9) This song is really relaxing and soothing and the drop the guitar creates is really great throughout the song. The chorus is really great in this song and the accentuated notes really give this song alot of life. The solos are really awesome and when Bono really gets vocal later in the track really is great.

    In A Little While (7.5) This track has alot of jazzy overtones and would be a really great track to listen to at a quieter volume if you needed to get work done or something. It remains pretty similar throughout the track but it still sounds good.

    Wild Honey (7.5) This song kind of sounds Beatleish with the simple guitar chords in the backgrounds. How the electric comes in shortly after is neat I think. It reminds me of the track before this one because of the conservative instrumentals. The vocals get a little more interesting later in the track probably to keep it interesting.

    Peace On Earth (8) Obviously the title of this song is great and the music associated with this track is very soothing and calm. The simple acoustics are great and they really match the song title with the music that was created. The calm electronica adds a great element to the song as well and keeps it interesting to the ear.

    When I Look At The World (8.5) The beginning of this song has really cool sounding guitar riffs, along with the sounds U2 creates when the track picks up. The solo in the middle of the song is really awesome and shows the true genius between all the musicians that are associated with U2. The track calms down before the end.

    New York (9) The cool, calm, and collected beat in the beginning of the song is really great. And the subtle guitar in the background lets you know the song is about to blow up. The title represents one of the greatest cities in the world. When the electric guitar hits, it adds that element to any successful song.

    Grace (7.5) This song has a certain calming effect to it and is a good wind down to the album. The drums in the background do good setting a beat. The guitar is simple but does good adding to the relaxing effect the track gives to the listener.

    The Ground Beneath Her Feet (8) This song is really great because it starts off very calm and really picks up and you really don't expect it if you've never listened to it. It is a good song to end the album because it kind of throws the listener off a little bit and kept me in an upbeat mood like maybe I want to go listen to more U2.
    Full Review »
  2. Nov 5, 2013
    5
    This is a vastly overrated comeback. The album has momentum with the first three tracks, then goes down from there. A main problem is the production, which makes these songs sound bland and sparse. The main reason that this effort is commendable is because it's sweet and sugary, never trying to be something that it's not. Basically a caricature of a U2 album, ATYCLB is the sound of a band becoming elder statesmen, and that's almost always depressing. Full Review »
  3. Jun 7, 2013
    10
    This is music. One of the best albums in history. Once you press the play button, you will not be able to stop it. If you have good taste, that is. It unleashes with breakthrough hit "Beautiful Day", a strong super-inspired track. A song that makes you feel. A song that touches. Just like "Walk On", the most deep song on the album. "Stuck In a Moment You Can't Get Out" and "Wild Honey" mark U2's best pop moment, with their "sweetness at all". "Elevation" is rock song of the album. It's moving and shaking. It's strong. "Kite" is just as deep and beautiful as "Beautiful Day" and "Walk On". "A Little While", a pretty romantic song. A song that only U2 could make. Actually, this album is an album that only U2 could make.

    The album moves into a dark zone. A "night zone", if you will. "Peace On Earth" and "When I Look At the World" have some of Bono's best lyrics, together with "New York", that strong track at the end of the album. So it all ends with quiet and calm "Grace", a beautiful meltdown. A beautiful closure to a beautiful album. And that feeling of willing for more. Willing to replay the entire album.

    This is U2's finest work. Their greatest moment musically. No one ever got close to music perfection as they did here.
    Full Review »