Songs Of Experience

U2

There’s a lot going on with U2’s 2017 release Songs Of Experience. The Irish quartet’s 14th studio album has a bunch of producers on hand and went through quite a bit of recording and revision until its release. World-changing politics and Bono’s bike accident in Central Park, from which his future guitar playing was put in jeopardy, were just some of what caused this album’s changes and delays.

The string synth backing and some Edge guitar swirls under Bono’s expressive vocal on “Love Is All We Have Left.” The band then gets stark on “Lights Of Home,” which tries to get anthemic by its end but just never builds sufficiently. It’s apparent Bono and the band are pretty much drilling a sonic scape and throwing forth lyrics of the sort we have heard before. There’s even the requisite U2 political treatise on “American Soul.” Not that every album can be or even need be as innovative as 1991's Achtung Baby. Even in the face of competent cool songwriting and solid playing, dare I say nothing much is standing out here.

The bouncing melody that drives "Get Out Of Your Way," the chanting chorus and acoustic strum of the lighthearted “The Showman (Little More Better)” and a few others that follow distinguish themselves from the rest. Edge’s guitar and Bono reaching over a snapping drum machine fuel the sweet “The Little Things That Give You Away,” and “Landlady,” the best lyric on the record. “The Blackout,” features some heavy riffing from Adam Clayton’s bass, providing a welcomed change-up. Unfortunately, moments of inspired playing like this are few and far between on Songs Of Experience. Even for a band as big and bold like U2, all is not perfectly aligned this time around.

~ Ralph Greco, Jr.

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