From the outset, U2 went for the big message -- every song on their debut album Boy sounds huge, with oceans of processed guitars cascading around Bono's impassioned wail. It was an inspired combination of large, stadium-rock beats and post-punk textures. Without the Edge's echoed, ringing guitar, U2 would have sounded like a traditional hard rock band, since the rhythm section and Bono treat each song as an anthem. Of course, that's the charm of Boy: all of its emotions are on the surface, delivered with optimistic, youthful self-belief, yet the unusual, distinctive guitar textures give it an unexpected tension that makes it an exhilarating debut. The songs may occasionally show some weakness -- the driving "I Will Follow," the dark "An Cat Dubh," and the shimmering "The Ocean" stand out among the sonic textures -- yet the band's musical and lyrical vision keep Boy compelling until the finish.
by Stephen Thomas Erlewine