The Unforgettable Fire is probably U2’s most important album. After a near perfect album in War, U2 sought to move in a different direction, as they would do after every high point in their career. As such, the album is a step towards their most popular one, The Joshua Tree, but while it’s not as good as that album on the whole, The Unforgettable Fire has some of the best songs U2 would ever make.
The album starts with aching and melodic “A Sort of Homecoming”, which I believe is one of their most underrated songs. Songs like “Pride”, the title song, and “Bad” convey the same power and feeling with relative success. “Wire” is a bit shaky, but there’s still some life in it. However a low point is reached with “Elvis Presley and America” which meanders hopelessly until 6 minutes feels like an eternity of drab musicianship. The other songs fall ungraciously somewhere in the middle.
Because of the few incredible songs mentioned above, I wish The Unforgettable Fire as a whole would reflect that quality. Sadly, the album will try your patience a bit. However, as far as transitional works go, this one has brilliant high spots that can occasionally supersede the greatness that was to follow.