U2's decision to choose Brian Eno as producer for their new album was a bold move.
Clearly conceived as a challenge for the band - and indeed for Eno who by his own admission was largely unfamiliar with the band's work prior to this - it gave credence to Bono's post-Phoenix Park declaration that the memorable concert had brought to a close the first full cycle of U2.
Further emphasising, after three acclaimed studio albums and a live wrap-up souvenir, that U2 had arrived at a radical point of departure, was Eno's playful but pointed assertion in his interview with Bill Graham one month ago, that the album would introduce "five or six new U2s" to the world.
All of which means that "The Unforgettable Fire" has a lot to live up to - and it's this listener's verdict that it does so, unequivocally.
One of the most significant aspects of "The Unforgettable Fire" is the maturing of Bono's abilities as a lyric writer and singer. Throughout the album his choice of language and use of imagery is rich and imaginative, sometimes brilliantly so, as in "Promenade,," a beautifully embellished love song, that's both spiritual and sensual, and wherein Bono echoes Van Morrison in the line "up the spiral staircase to the higher ground."
This then, is the beginning of the new chapter of U2. With an album as rich and rewarding as "The Unforgettable Fire" as an introduction, the possibilities for the future seem limitless.
(condensed from original review)