Essentially, U2 are trying to revirginize themselves, to erase their wild flirtation with dance clubs and postmodernism so they can return to the time they were the social conscience of rock music. Gone are the heavy dance beats, gone are the multiple synthesizers, gone are the dense soundscapes that marked their '90s albums, but U2 are so concerned with recreating their past that they don't know where to stop peeling away the layers. They've overcorrected for their perceived sins, scaling back their sound so far that they have shed the murky sense of mystery that gave The Unforgettable Fire and The Joshua Tree an otherworldly allure.
Even by the usual drug-drenched rock autobiography standards, Julian Cope's Head On has an exotic supporting cast. We meet rock managers who believe the Beatles' success was down to ley-lines, Scouse mystics theorising that humanity is controlled by an all-powerful duck, and an adolescent Courtney Love, dealing LSD provided by her father. But perhaps the most surprising cameo comes from U2, struggling post-punkers in the brief period when Cope's Teardrop Explodes were Britain's hippest band.