(Can't get the comment page to work for whatever reason. So here's my reply.)
How I see it: u2 is a mainstream pop band with underground sensibilities. They stay on top because they experiment with new ideas, grooves, and sounds. Yet always there behind it all remains their individual style.
In a sense, they remind me a lot of the Beatles. Can one compare Rubber Soul to Abbey Road? They are entirely different yet....superb, classic albums. They reflect the times the band was experiencing. u2 is much the same with the 80's era, and the 90's era. Their music is very different, yet the vibe is still there. They have their own thing going on, yet they can still stay in the spotlight.
When asked, 'What is my favourite u2 album?' I come up with this answer. "You want to know which one from the 80's, or 90's? Don't expect me to choose because they need to be placed in separate categories."
I for one am GLAD that they have many different sounds. That is what makes them so interesting! Heck, some days you feel like listening to some WAR. Others, perhaps driving down the highway, you're feeling a bit like POP and you need to scream some lyrics. Maybe you feel like the Fly and it's time for some Achtung Baby.
Now, example time. Let us compare.....If you take a band *and I say that...very....reluctantly...* like Backstreet Boys where you can't tell one album from another. It's repetitive and sounds the same all around. The theme is always the same, and do they even write their own songs? Do they play their instruments? Yet that is what critics claim to be music nowadays? That is what is popular? Please. Give me some u2, a band with real-life actual talent and they put on a hell of a show.
_ _ _ _
"I look cool, I am cool." - Larry Mullen Jr.