Indian Summer Sky

Racing in furiously, “Indian Summer Sky” is easily the hardest-rocking and fastest song off The Unforgettable Fire, which makes it odd that it’s positioned as track eight. In any event, it’s certainly placed in the best position, because after a particularly floaty trilogy of songs amounting to over 11 minutes of ethereality, the album needs a shot in the arm, and it comes. Even as the song apparently slows down in the verses and choruses, it’s worth listening to the drumming, which is a steady thump on the kicks and snares but elsewhere is a furious flailing, matched by an also quick and rattling bassline. Indeed, overall the song is actually a fairly accurate synthesis of Boy and October‘s fast rhythm section work and the rest of Unforgettable Fire’s extensive use of delay and ambient tones, which makes it an intriguing yet unfortunately oft-ignored track on the album.

There’s a relatively simple reason why a listener might ignore it, though, which is that the lyrics never really explain what the urgency is about. Naturalistic references of skies, winds, light and water predate the kind that would appear in abundance on The Joshua Tree,  yet lines like To lose along the way/The spark that set the flame don’t elaborate on the suggestion of some kind of failed relationship. Naturally Bono has blamed Brian Eno for this, yet blame (if blamestorming is a way forward, that is) ought to be shared, here – it’s not like Bono was illiterate on War. It’s not like the lyrics are a failure, either – but to use a footballing analogy, the drums, bass and guitar all make fantastic runs and passes, and then the final cross to lyrics results in a scrappy header into the goal. It’s a good song, then, but not quite the triumph it could be.

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~ by 4trak on June 16, 2008.

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