U2 is OK…
…but that’s not necessarily a term of endearment here. With certain artists, we expect more. Grand statements, reacting to, along with, defining the times. The past two years were tailored made for U2: Trump, Russia, Brexit, social media, fake news, war, refugee crisis, The Wall, etc. To be fair, some of it is addressed on the album, directly or indirectly, unfortunately, it falls short.
Which begs the question, is riotous rock ‘n roll a young man’s game? When you’re older, richer and comfortable, do you still have something to say? Does the fire still burn in the belly?
Songs Of Experience, the companion piece to Songs Of Innocence, has been years in the making. Songs scrapped, songs re-tooled. Then there was The Joshua Tree tour and Bono’s serious/mysterious brush with mortality. The album was ready to go awhile back, but after the US election and other world events, U2 put it on hold to address those matters. And maybe that’s part of the problem with this record…sessions stopped and started, recorded in multiple studios, across multiple continents, and with 9 different producers. 9?!?!
At times it seems forced. Overthought.
But that’s not to say the album doesn’t have any appeal. Without a doubt, it’s the best, most interesting collection since How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb. There are moments when the band captures past glories and interesting glimpses into their future.
The fact that U2 has remained relevant and the release of their music still considered an event, is no easy feat after 37 years. But if anyone other than U2 put out this album, would anybody care?