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As the third of three albums from U2's "Zoo" period, they're still in deliberately cool mode. However it wasn't quite as poppy as its self-conscious title might suggest. Sure, they've travelled far from the earnest stadium rock of the 1980s, but it ain't exactly boy-band stuff. Instead they dip their feet into indie and electronica. Bono's vocals are turned down, in favour of a lot of heavy bass and drums, with the aid of producer Flood. The pumping guitars and big beats of "Discotheque" are closer to the Chemical Brothers then the soft rock of the "Achtung Baby" singles. "Mofo" could even have fitted well into "Exit Planet Dust".
They take a while to settle into the consciousness, as it's quite dense music, but there's a lot of plain good songs here. Apart from the sarcastic pop of "Discotheque", we have the breezy tunes of "Do You Feel Loved", and "If God Would Send His Angels". The U2 spirit of tingling melodies and soaring riffs is still very much in evidence in songs like "Gone" and "Please". The muttered vocals, quietly bubbling instrumentals, and sinister bassline of "If You Wear That Velvet Dress" are distinctively spooky. "The Playboy Mansion" is the only place where they really flounder - making routine lists of pop culture icons would only be excusable if there was anything close to a good tune! But throughout, their sound is tightly-knit. For a change, it's the entire texture of the instrumentals, the dense production, which provides the impetus, rather than Bono's tunes or Edge's riffs.
October 13, 2004