The Unforgettable Fire U2 Island Seriously, what is it about U2? Despite their undisputed talent, worldwide popularity, and consistent commercial and critical success, there's just something about the four-piece from Dublin that comes across as egregiously precocious. Decent songwriters and musicians they certainly are (let's not forget, they've sold 150 million records and won 22 Grammys) but they don't half let you know it. Since the release of their debut LP, Boy, in 1980, it seems the band have never stopped banging their own drum. Vocalist Bono, guitarist The Edge, drummer Larry Mullen Jnr and self-taught bassist Adam Clayton have become, in their own words, 'the biggest little cult band in the world'. Change one letter in that quote and you get the picture. Outside of music, Bono, much like his unofficial protege Chris Martin of Coldplay, has become a rampantly international 'do-gooder', putting the rest of us mere mortals to shame with his causes and campaigns. While celebrities who challenge the powers that be and put their fragile reputations on the line for the sake of the downtrodden should be lauded, this only adds to Bono's self-generated image as some kind of saviour - of mankind and music. He bangs on about musicians who make 'glossy wallpaper music' with no real spirit and then has the audacity to state his band's music 'has a realism to it' and that it's just a 'celebration of being yourself', as well as alleging that they are the natural successors to The Who and Led Zeppelin. That being said, U2 have undoubtedly made some formidable rock albums - even if, in Bono's bloated words, they 'became the biggest band of the '80s, which was a decade full of crap music'. And while most will have a particular fondness for the classic LPs Achtung Baby and The Joshua Tree, it is 1984's The Unforgettable Fire that made many sit up and take notice. Out went the sometime post-punk/new wave sound of the first two releases, and in came something altogether more ambient and aloof, overseen by producer Brian Eno. The most recognisable track is Pride (In the Name of Love), which is a bona fide anthem, but the songs Promenade and Bad have a melancholic softness to them that suggests a better relationship between the sound and the message. The production and instrumentation throughout the LP are much more measured and deliberate than their previous attempts, and set the band on the road to rock super-stardom and the many trappings that burden so often entails. Admittedly it seems a shame to spend so much time discussing the character of the band as opposed to their actual music, but surely that is as much the appeal of an artist as the art itself? The truth is, U2 aren't particularly cool, but life just wouldn't be the same without them.