Review Summary: "Up" manages to take a step up from "Us", and results in one of Peter Gabriel's best works...
When waiting ten years, the wait can be tiring for fans who are expecting the next album to come along from their favorite artist. This type of wait, while not common, usually results in either an awful album or a masterpiece based on the expectation of the fans. Sometimes, it’s in between, with the end result being decent. With Peter Gabriel, his most recent effort that contained original material, he falls into the latter category.
2002’s “Up” makes for an extremely engaging listen, beginning with the gripping “Darkness”, which flat out states one of the many themes of “Up”. Where 1992’s “Us” focused mainly on Gabriel’s personal issues, such as the growing estrangement from his first daughter, Anna-Marie; and the failure of his first marriage, among other subjects. “Up” makes use of its sixty-seven minute long running time to cover more darker subjects, the most prominent one being death. Other subjects such as fear (“Darkness”), life itself (“Growing Up”), the stages of grief (“I Grieve”), et cetera, et cetera, are present on "Up".
“Up”, or the songs “Sky Blue” and “Signal to Noise”, further expand on the use of world music, ever present since Gabriel’s eighties works, and make for the stronger listens, while tracks like ”Darkness” and “Growing Up” implement the use of electronics, especially the latter with its pulsating beat complimenting the track. Other tracks worth mentioning are "More Than This", which is about the narrator lamenting of there being much more to life than what he is living. "The Barry Williams Show", while a decent track, is the weakest on the album. Despite that, it makes a sassy criticism of reality television and talk shows, while saving the best insults for Jerry Springer. One nagging problem with “Up” is the length itself, which makes the album difficult to listen to without getting bored, with some of the tracks dragging on too long. (“No Way Out” comes to mind) But when it comes to “Up”, it manages to stay consistent all the way through, so when the listener is fully captivated by the material, it is sure to be an enjoyable from beginning to end.
In the end, “Up” not only makes for an enjoyably solid experience, but may be one of Gabriel’s greatest achievements. While overshadowed by “Melt” and “So”, it has to be one of best among his catalogue.