Shadows And Tall Trees

Boy is primarily composed, broadly, of either rockers (“I Will Follow”, “Out of Control”) or occasionally ballads (“Into The Heart”), yet the last track is seemingly neither, instead sound like a slow, steadily moving mood piece that sees Bono getting remarkably abstract and bizarre, the most notable moment being his achingly depressed noting that Mrs. Brown’s washing is always the same! Indeed, always the same, or references to repetition, is seemingly a motif of the song; possibly an idea of security or tedious emptiness – which is not too clear, although the result is a desire to escape and have independence (indeed, the title itself is taken from Lord of the Flies). Really, though, the lyrics aren’t so much the strongest point; it’s more the vocals, especially the way that lead and backing vocals half/double-speed harmonise over one another in the chorus, while bass looms ominously and drums build to an ending that never quite happens. Never quite happens, in fact, until the final chorus, where it all builds euphorically.

Perhaps one point should be made about guitar tone. Up to this point, Edge effectively had two settings, albeit with a fair amount of variation, either a) the basic punk distortion of the likes of “Boy/Girl”, or b) the early-era (i.e. Memory Man) delay. Yet here there’s more of a twanging feel going on, an interesting feel that has never really turned up before or since with U2. In any event, despite “Shadows And Tall Trees” being incredibly vague, it has an edgy atmosphere to it that makes it one of the best songs from Boy, as if we’re witnessing some ineffable play and the main dramas that occur in the chorus are only marked by a song title, sung in strung-out notes. And some ominous bass.

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~ by 4trak on August 25, 2008.

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