FGCU’s Christopher Endrinal may be more qualified than most critics to review the latest U2 album. He is an assistant professor in the Bower School of Music & the Arts who specializes in music theory.
He’s also a “Bono-fide” U2 fan-boy scholar who has seen his favorite band seven times in concert. His doctoral dissertation was “Form and Style in the Music of U2”. His research on U2’s music has been published by a music theory journal, and his reviews and essays have appeared on the fan site www.atu2.com.
Posters trumpeting “The Joshua Tree” album and “360” concert tour adorn his office walls, and the bookshelves filled with the Irish band’s CDs and DVDs. Don’t be surprised if you pass in the hallway and hear “Songs of Innocence,” the Irish super-group’s latest album, rattle and hum through his computer’s speakers.
He calls U2 “one of the all-time greats in rock history, as demonstrated by their longevity, sustained relevance, influence, album sales, concert attendance figures, critical acclaim and popularity with the general public.”
A fan since he was in elementary school in the mid-‘80s, Endrinal thinks 1991’s “Achtung Baby” is U2’s best. “It got me through high school,” he says. “The sound was so different from what came before. ‘The Joshua Tree’ (1987) is one of the greatest rock albums of all time. So many bands would take that and run with it, but they did a 180. The sound changed. The way they toured changed.”
Endrinal has studied the musical and lyrical qualities that distinguish U2 and identified and quantified four distinct stylistic periods in the quartet’s history as characterized by particular sonic, lyric and aesthetic traits. The Edge’s signature use of echo/delay guitar effects, Adam Clayton’s active bass and Bono’s layered vocals are among U2’s more distinctive calling cards.
“The unique U2 sound is not created by a single element alone,” he says.
The origin and evolution of the band is reflected throughout “Songs of Innocence,” which sparked backlash this fall when Apple downloaded the album automatically for free to iTunes accounts around the world. You can read Endrinal’s review here.
And you might hear the album someday in one of his classes.
“We study old music in theory class – to learn how we got where we are today,” he says. “We’re examining the past to understand the present and see where we’re going in the future.”