Forget smooth arrangements and the artificial taste of their Pop-corny precedent album. All That You Can't Leave Behind is to the year 2000 what Achtung Baby and Joshua Tree were to the nineties and eighties; a major work, lyrical and mature, but above all a return to their roots.
All That You Can't Leave Behind is located somewhere between Joshua Tree, from which it borrows lyricism and intimacy, and Achtung Baby for its discreet electronic sounds. The music is more instinctive and it is clear that after some distractions, the group reclaims its own identity. Thus U2 plays U2, and although the first step lacks originality, it is especially a means for the group of finding its roots and setting out again to ground zero for the new millenium. The CD insert and the black and white photographs of Anton Corbijn can only confirm this new departure. And since vintage 2000 is good, there is be no reason to complain.
The single "Beautiful Day" is perfectly representative of the style of All That You Can't Leave Behind and starts the album in beauty with its electronic sounds, The Edge’s light arpeggios, Bono’s soaring vocals, and its message of hope. While "Stuck In A Moment You Can't Get Out Of" is veiled advice, "Elevation" is one of their typical bravado pieces with its nervous guitars. "Walk On" has one of the most catchy choruses and a perfect vehicle for their committed message. "Kite" cries its melancholy until it gets under your skin. "In A Little While" is more of an interlude while "Wild Honey" is a refreshing, rousing, and folky U2. "Peace On Earth" is superb, soft though naive ode to peace on earth. "When I Look At The World " casts a melodious look at this earth. Between "Where The Streets Cuts No Name" and "New Year' s Day", "New York" is a hymn to this city, in the purest heroic tradition of the group, and the best song on the album; it almost makes you want to move. "Grace" is a minimalist song that concludes the disc on an optimistic note, just like "Beautiful Day" did with its fanfare.
All That You Can't Leave Behind leaves behind the ugliness of the world to carry its positive, hopeful message of the present and what’s yet to come. A double entendre message that Bono addresses to the world, but also a direct allusion to the rebirth of the group with this album, after a few chaotic years.