Please explain something to us – why is it not okay to ditch a sports team when they’re losing but perfectly fine to abandon a band when their new music is less than perfect?
Case in point – U2.
The Irish superstars have lately become the whipping boys of modern rock music, especially when the previous album – Songs of Innocence – was given away for free to iTunes users. Oh the temerity!
But our perspective is simple. When you consider the pervasive influence U2 have had on rock music for most of their career, then perhaps expecting them to have the same impact now that they are well in their 50s as when they were in the height of their powers, is plain ridiculous! Not to mention mean-spirited.
Of course, the new album does not hold a candle to the classic albums of the 80s but objectively, is it (and its predecessor) any worse than All You Can’t Leave Behind or How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb?
In fact, there are several solid tracks here (e.g. “You’re the Best Thing About Me”, “Get Out of Your Own Way”, “The Little Things That Give You Away” and “Love is Bigger than Anything in its Way” that have a wide enough radio friendly appeal despite their adherence to old-school rock attributes.
For diehards, there is enough of U2’s former political commentary in at least one song viz. “American Soul” – which features rapper Kendrick Lamar – “Let it be unity, let it be community/For refugees like you and me/A country to receive us/Will you be our sanctuary.”
Songs of Experience is U2 coming to terms musically with a modern pop landscape that no longer has any space for rock music even as thematically, the lyrics serve as a collection of letters written by lead vocalist Bono to people and places closest to his heart.
In our view, Songs of Experience is a more honest assimilation by U2 of modern pop elements than Zooropa or Pop ever were. Mainly because, at its core, the album is still unmistakably a U2 album, with a eye and ear for the pop charts of 2017.
That’s good enough for us.
… still there’s more …