U2 - Songs of Experience (Album Review)

Thursday, 07 December 2017 Written by Jacob Brookman

In a 2013 interview, U2 frontman Bono described some of the challenges that come with producing ‘very good’ music. “People don't get excited about us being very good,” he said. “Who needs a new U2 album? There's loads of them out there [...] we have to make a great U2 album.”

Whether the album that followed, ‘Songs of Innocence’, was indeed great felt irrelevant at the time. The decision by the band to parachute it into people’s iTunes libraries without permission was met with the kind of vitriolic contempt you might expect to level at a Donald Trump rally. Music lovers felt it proved every prejudice they held about U2: that they were the worst kind of self-righteous corporate egotists peddling clapped-out champagne humanitarianism.

As such, the title ‘Songs of Experience’ appears to directly respond. This is an album by a band who need to earn our trust once again, and it is loaded with an intensity that frequently captivates.

We open with the marvellous, elegiac Love is All We Have Left, before swiftly dropping into the rootsy and complex Lights of Home.

The two songs work together well, and though autotune is introduced clumsily both are superbly arranged, with sparse, bumpy backing on Lights of Home, and a joyous, affirmative singalong moment at the end. “Free yourself to be yourself!” they declare. 

Elsewhere, You’re the Best Thing About Me recalls their bloated ‘90s heyday as its stompy rigour gives way to a shuffling swagger-beat...and then a disco middle-8... and then back again.

Though the video is a tedious, cringe-inducing love letter to New York, one can’t help but appreciate that this is a band still hitting their marks. U2 are the progenitors of a particular brand of tour-video posturing, so in many ways its use is reassuring.

Most of all, though, this album is hungry. Anyone who grew up from the ‘90s onwards can only ever really appreciate U2 as a group who were already ‘the biggest band in the world ®’ and, thus, a bit of a pastiche. But their early work was immense, Catholic punk that proudly evoked moralism in the era of Thatcher and Reagan. Maybe Trump has woken them up.

U2 Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Wed May 02 2018 - TULSA Oklahoma - BOK Center (USA)
Fri May 04 2018 - ST LOUIS Missouri - Scottrade Center (USA)
Mon May 07 2018 - SAN JOSE California - SAP Center at San Jose (USA)
Tue May 08 2018 - SAN JOSE California - SAP Center (USA)
Fri May 11 2018 - LAS VEGAS Nevada - Las Vegas Arena (USA)
Sat May 12 2018 - LAS VEGAS Nevada - T-Mobile Arena (USA)
Tue May 15 2018 - LOS ANGELES California - Forum (USA)
Wed May 16 2018 - LOS ANGELES California - Forum - Los Angeles (USA)
Tue May 22 2018 - CHICAGO Illinois - United Center (USA)
Wed May 23 2018 - CHICAGO Illinois - United Center (USA)
Sat May 26 2018 - NASHVILLE Tennessee - Bridgestone Arena (USA)
Mon May 28 2018 - ATLANTA Georgia - Arena at Gwinnett Center (USA)
Tue June 05 2018 - MONTREAL Quebec - Centre Bell (Canada)
Wed June 06 2018 - MONTREAL Quebec - Centre Bell (Canada)
Sat June 09 2018 - UNIONDALE New York - Nassau Coliseum (USA)
Wed June 13 2018 - PHILADELPHIA Pennsylvania - Wells Fargo Center (USA)
Thu June 14 2018 - PHILADELPHIA Pennsylvania - Wells Fargo Center - PA (USA)
Sun June 17 2018 - WASHINGTON District Of Columbia - Capital One Arena (USA)
Mon June 18 2018 - WASHINGTON District Of Columbia - Capital One Arena (USA)
Thu June 21 2018 - BOSTON Massachusetts - TD Garden (USA)
Fri June 22 2018 - BOSTON Massachusetts - TD Garden (USA)
Mon June 25 2018 - NEW YORK New York - Madison Square Garden (USA)
Tue June 26 2018 - NEW YORK New York - Madison Square Garden (USA)
Fri June 29 2018 - NEWARK New Jersey - Prudential Center (USA)

Click here to compare & buy U2 Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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