Unknown Caller is one of those songs that is very mood-dependent. There are times when it comes on and I’m immediately pressing the Next button, and there are times when I’ll replay it two or three times in a row. I can’t even tell you what I’m in to get that way, it’s not like I’m choosing songs based on my mood (haven’t done that for many years). In fact I usually will listen to random songs, on occasion I’ll pick something slightly specific to listen to (like today when I wanted to listen to Songs Of Innocence, and ran through it three or four times). It’s not too often when I actually say “oh, I want to listen to song X” and go listen to it. I’ve done it a little more this year, actually listening to the song I’m reviewing.
Really annoying sound at the start, with the car horn stuck on or whatever it is. Plus the birds, I don’t like their sound in the song, regardless of the point of them. I think there’s really a full minute of annoyance at the start of the song, before the real music begins. So when you look at the song as being six minutes long, you can chop a minute off right there. But when that music does kick in it sounds good, like an interesting song is right there for the grabbing. I don’t know that it quite makes it that far though. I don’t know why, this does seem to be one of those cases where each of the parts doesn’t quite make it to the whole. When Bono reaches into the “go, shout it out” lyric, the music seems to lose itself.
I don’t like some of the lyrics in the song either. Bono is usually at his best when he is being allegorical, or vague, or literary. In Unknown Caller he has a couple of lines that break this style, and I don’t think they work too well. The whole “restart and reboot yourself,” “force quit and move to trash,” everything in it that suggests using a computer. It just doesn’t work for me. Even though I use a Mac and the implication is that Bono does too (Windows users don’t force quit).
The “sunshine, sunshine” at the start reminds me of “Sun shine, sun shine on me,” which was a line in an old U2 b side called The Three Sunrises, one of the b sides to The Unforgettable Fire single. Don’t know why it reminds me of that, it just does. Maybe it’s the lyric, maybe it’s the sound, maybe it’s the combination of the two.
Doesn’t it seem like I’m saying a lot of “don’t know”s in this review? That’s what I get from the song, I just don’t know if it is good or bad, and I don’t know if I like it or not. Even though I’ve rated it average, and I’ve rated a number of other songs the same, I can’t think of another song that I’ve reviewed so far that I’ve been so conflicted on.
My rating for Unknown Caller: 5 / 10