U2, Achtung Baby

If the cultural zeitgeist of the early 1990s could be etched into a disc, it would end up sounding a lot like this one. No coincidence, then, that it was recorded in Berlin and Dublin where their worldly tumults just ooze into the album's every moment by osmosis. No more the chastened Irish youth of Rattle and Hum, they now bring to their listeners the novelty and the weight of new frontiers for a generation that chafed just as much from constriction. There is introspection, self-examination, romance, regret and loss, and a just a touch of humour, but through it all the unavoidable impression that change has come with infinite possibilities that loom and bloom all at once, and the world through our eyes would never be the same. The music captures the same lyric feel as the words, the chiming guitars of "Who's Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses," the wistful musing beat of "One," the biting saunter of "Mysterious Ways" and the mournful dirge of "Love Is Blindness." Few musical time capsules are more complete: as Bono's distorted vocals correctly call out in "Zoo Station," in those heady days every single one of us was ready for what was next. (Content: mild language in "Acrobat.")