sat 16/12/2017

CD: U2 - Songs of Experience | reviews, news & interviews

CD: U2 - Songs of Experience

CD: U2 - Songs of Experience

The Irish rockers return, but this time you'll have to pay to play…

'The wedding photographer was a *little* unconventional, yes'

When Irish rock band U2 marked the release of 2014’s Songs of Innocence by loading it into everyone’s iTunes for free, it was an attempt to find a new angle on the "event release". While it was certainly that, it wasn’t, shall we say… universally well received. Thankfully, for its companion piece, Songs of Experience, the band has opted for an altogether more traditional delivery system. There will be no humanitarian air-drops of WAVs over the shire counties – you can tell the Home Guard to stand down.

This, of course, means we're paying for the pleasure this time round – so what do we get? Well, U2 have rarely been a band to retread old ground, most recently opting for the kind of studied emotional swell that is often mistaken for feeling on shows like The X Factor, where sentimental is taken as a synonym for sentiment. Songs of Experience contains much of this kind of thing, including a platitudinous fixation on love. “Love Is All We Have Left” we are assured, while Bono sings something about babies crying on doorsteps, and something else about nothing stopping this from being the best day ever. Then there’s “Love Is Bigger Than Anything Else”, which is 30 per cent song and 70 per cent motivational meme. Elsewhere, “Get Out of Your Own Way” follows a similar route, sounding more like a self-help manual than a rock song.

There are a few decent tunes to reward the determined listener

It’s a shame, as these tracks come to define Songs of Experience in the same way that excessive bloating defines IBS, and there are a few decent tunes to reward the determined listener. “Lights of Home” and “American Soul” both stomp about determinedly enough and show that there’s still the passion to make a right old racket on occasion. The former, in particular makes the most of Bono’s voice, which is at its best when being tested. “The Blackout”, meanwhile, sees the singer slip on his leather trousers of old for a little slink around the block. There’s post-punk in the bass, disco in the drums, and the whole thing is shot through with confidence and wry humour.

These are, however, occasional glints and largely obscured by the characterless, by-numbers puff that surrounds them. The ratio is still way off, and the real worry is that either the band can’t see it, or just don’t care.

@jahshabby

These tracks come to define Songs of Experience in the same way that excessive bloating defines IBS

rating

Editor Rating: 
2
Average: 2 (1 vote)

Share this article

Add comment

Subscribe to theartsdesk.com

Thank you for continuing to read our work on theartsdesk.com. For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 10,000 pieces, we're asking for £3.95 per month or £30 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take an annual subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a theartsdesk.com gift subscription?

newsletter

Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters