After U2 shed their mad, eccentric sides post-Pop – the sort of side that did “Numb”, “Lemon” and resulted in Bono delivering that deeply unhinged speech as Mirrorball Man at a New York gig (“I have a vision! Television! Television!”) – it resulted in the kind of polarising responses their 90s work had resulted in anyway. There were arguments on the one hand that the band had returned to their classic feel and hence form. On the other, there were accusations of MOR blandness, that the band were now content to peddle Joshua Tree clones from now ’til the End Times. Of course, being the media, neither reading was faintly accurate; ATYCLB was largely rock-sounding, but it also on many songs took some very subtle risks – ones that take a lot of analysis to spot. No wonder the critics were wrong – as the 21st century dawned, U2 had (for better or worse) discovered an odd thing called “subtlety”.

“Kite” is one of those songs. Beginning with a string loop that sounds oddly creaky and tentative, the song expands outwards with guitar (interestingly, a groaning texture burying the more traditionally Edge tone underneath), leading to a pre-chorus that ups to a huge chorus, which comes down to another low verse, and so on, leaving a sort of ABCDCEDF structure. It blows forward to new areas and often blows back not unlike the titular kite, which crops up lyrically as blowing out of control on the breeze – that suggestion of chaos not unlike “Beach Sequence”. There’s also that odd use of tenses – I wonder what’s gonna happen to you/You wonder what has happened to me. “Kite” suggests something uneasy in its lyrics that swerves the song out of soundtracks for terrible TV adaptations of Bronte novels, and indeed it is effectively the prequel to “Sometimes You Can’t Make It On Your Own“. Indeed, it marks this like a diary entry in the F section, speaking of hip-hop and the Internet in the ascendancy. Overall, then, a seemingly normal ballad where all is not what it seems – a hence an easily replayable success.


~ by 4trak on July 15, 2008.

One Response to “Kite”

  1. I think this is one of U2’s great underrated hits (other being Running to Stand Still). I am in total agreement, it does have replayable success. I would check out, for sure, the live preformances at Slane Castle and Boston.

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