'A cracker of an album…'

30 Nov 201777

'Songs of Experience' arrives tomorrow and this week the reviewers have been passing judgment. Here's some highlights, we'll add more in the coming days.

"U2 unveil an album full of self-awareness, gravitas and humour... Often it seems as if the moments that deal with the aforementioned brush with mortality are the most natural and enjoyable, as if concerns about their frontman's potential demise caused everyone to stop worrying about U2's place within the contemporary scheme of things and focus on the music… Boasting a guitar part atmospheric and understated even by the Edge's 80s standards, the concluding 13 (There Is a Light) is delicately affecting; Landlady's extended apology to Bono's wife, Ali Hewson, gently achieves precisely the kind of emotional uplift Love is Bigger Than Anything In Its Way nearly gives itself a hernia trying to attain; Lights of Home welds distorted slide guitar and a gospel-ish chorus to an entirely fantastic song. The Showman, meanwhile, is playful and authentically funny: a reflection on the contradictions and ridiculousness of the job of rock star that shows infinitely more self-awareness than Bono's critics would give him credit for... U2 sound more like the band you suspect they want to be than they have in a decade."
Alexis Petridis, THE GUARDIAN,'U2: Songs of Experience, '…fantastic return to form' ****

"People who can't stand U2's earnest, heal-the-world side may want to turn elsewhere right now. The word "love," unironic and high-minded, recurs all over "Songs of Experience," the band's long-gestating sequel to its 2014 album, "Songs of Innocence." Where "Songs of Innocence" was full of youthful biographical specifics, both euphoric and grim, from the group's lead singer and main lyricist, Bono, "Songs of Experience" has an adult's broader, more general perspective. It favours lessons and archetypes, not stories…"
Jon Pareles, NEW YORK TIMES, 'U2 Releases 'Songs of Experience. Cynicism Not Included.'

"Songs of Experience will likely go down as a late-career classic. Unlike its predecessors, it carries some memorable, stadium-ready tunes, initially signposted by You're The Best Thing About me - their best comeback single since 2000's Beautiful Day…. U2 have dug deep, yet they remain both postmodern and unpredictable. Able to assume many sounds and voices; to invoke their early-80's innocence but also none-more-experienced, masters of every inch of their game…. from here, U2 can rebuild with confidence."
Andrew Perry, Q MAGAZINE, Bringing It All Back Home ****

"Textbook anthem Love Is Bigger Than Anything In Its Way… is plainly a parent-to-child letter of reassurance; an important unburdening for someone recently spooked, and another key component in U2's strongest album this century."
James McNair, MOJO, 'The Letters of Paul' ****
 "As the title makes plain, Songs of Experience is not the work of young men. It showcases U2 at their most mature and assured, playing songs of passion and purpose, shot through and enlivened with a piercing bolt of desperation. "The Showman gives you front row to his heart / Making a spectacle of falling apart," Bono sings with defiant humour on The Showman, and it is this spectacle that makes Experience so compelling. A little battered by time and bloodied by events, U2 remain defiantly unbowed, as determined as ever to make mass market music that really matters."
Neil McCormick, DAILY TELEGRAPH, 'U2's Songs of Experience is full of desperation and meaty hooks in equal measure' ****

"Behind those tinted shades…there is still a superb blue-eyed soul singer. And next to him, The Edge, is several guitarists in one: if he's not murmuring in your ear, he's roaring like Jimmy Page or taking a step back to join Larry Mullen and Adam Clayton, the most resolute of rhythm sections. After 41 years, U2's secret is their unity, just about the greatest strength a band can have. They're like an old friend now - you take them warts and all, you ride out their midlife crisis, and after spending time with them, you feel uplifted."
Tim De Lisle, MAIL ON SUNDAY, Album of the Week, '…the melodic, punchy tunes soon get under your skin.' ****

"Like its 2014 predecessor, U2's "Songs of Experience" is the product of a difficult and drawn-out recording process. Much more so than "Songs of Innocence," however, U2 has made an exciting, stage-ready album that doesn't blush or blink in its use of the band's signature sounds — The Edge's chiming guitar, Adam Clayton's trebly, adhesive bass, Larry Mullen Jr.'s sharp and responsive drums and Bono's heart-on-his-vocal-cords singing…"
Pablo Gordini, ASSOCIATED PRESS, 'U2's 'Songs of Experience' is a thrilling listen'
"...The penultimate track is 'Love Is Bigger Than Anything In Its Way' another multi-layered beaut of a ballad. Sounds like a choir doing harmonies to Bono's soaring vocals and yet another strong grower.  This is truly a cracker of an album on first, second and third listens. Living with it for an extended spell will determine whether it hits the heights of a Joshua Tree, an Achtung Baby or the cruelly underrated Pop."
Eric Lalor, JOE.ie, 'Songs of Experience by U2 ranks alongside the band's greatest work.'

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Thank you
Thank you guys for again bringing joy, reflection and happiness via music into my life. You have been one of the biggest parts of my life since i was 14 and I first saw you whilst sitting on my lounge floor at 2am watching you perform Bad at Live Aid. This album is so strong with again great lyrics, guitar and harmony that gives me goosebumps. Congratulations and looking forward to again seeing you down under
Songs of Experience
Its an instant classic. I can't stop listening to Songs of Experience. I can go on all day....can't wait for Montreal June 5th 2018. Long live rock &roll.
The kind of music that I enjoy
Another great piece of art that deeply moves me. I love the album and from the atmospheric first track to more catchy and raw rock songs it offers a wide diversity of sonic adventures. With Bono reflecting on love, vulnerability and life as a public person, it´s partly a very personal record. For me "The Little Things That Give You Away" is one of the most touching gems giving me goosebumps. I love the way it builds up so much intensity and a feeling of speed after a calm beginning. A stunning example of U2´s joy to play together. From that personal level the album also takes us to the outside world characterised by recent political changes and a feeling of uncertainty. "Summer Of Love" and "Red Flag Day" (which reminds me of U2´s powerful early material) are stirring laments revealing consternation about the refugee crisis and traumas people had to go through. The feelings of despair and cries for humanity get evident as we hear the lines "The one word that the sea can´t say / Is No, no, no". Despite the tragedies some songs refer to U2 succeed to express a sense of positivity and encourage us to remain hopeful. The line "And there is a light don´t let it go out" echoes "Song For Someone" and beautifully shows us that spark of hope. After all, the essence is love and once again U2 remind us of the things that truly matter. What a sincere, heartfelt and mature album.
The best advent calendar ever!
This new album has come full circle, certainly reflecting on the bands innocence to experience. Every album is a chapter in a book of their/our lives. The songs, words and meanings are carried as inspiration, direction and comfort forever finding a place in my heart and soul.
My 8 year old
Loves Red Flag Day, American Soul, and Summer of Love. He signs along (well, might I add) in the car! YOU GO U2!
David Hayhthorn
This album is absolutely exceptional. U2 at their very best. The little things that give you away had me in tears. I simply cannot wait for the European leg of the tour. My membership updated waiting for those pre sales. THANK YOU for being ever present in my life! Now and forever!
You' re the best
Just few words to this incredible band : the contract between U2 and their fans is widely honoured !!! I felt many emotions listening to this new album, it has been for me a great surprise. No matter what the critics can say, it is ,in my opinion, the best album since Achtung Baby. Pure and sincere, beautiful voice, beautiful music...Already one of my favourite albums! Thanks, and can't wait to see you in Paris!!! Love
eric doran13
The book of your heart
Amazing tune
OK so in full transparency, my CD finally arrived today. You all know how difficult it is,as U2 fans, to listen without expecation, to get out of our own way or to erase the mind's chalkboard before we listen to Songs of Experience. SO here we go. This album arrives 24 hours after my 101 year old grandmother passes away, so this album, a gift, will bring the word experience to a new meaning for me. Thank you U2. Here we go. Our homework assignment is to get to know these songs well enough to blow your minds in May '18
Thank you so much. They're all bloody good but SOE takes me somewhere very special. You guys better keep your promise and tour Oz in 2018! It's been a long time, I guess it's asking too much to bring the JT show too????? Tour Oz twice in the 1 go mmmmmmmmmm
Cannot stop playing
My god, what a gorgeous album. I cannot stop playing it...and every time, I hear something else that makes me love it even more. Bono’s voice makes me shiver in spots, cry in others, FEEL like I haven’t in so long. Thank you, U2, for the greatest piece of work I’ve heard in a long time. And thanks especially to Edge, because apparently it was you who held up the release date to get it just right ... wasn’t that what Bono kept telling the Joshua Tree audience earlier this year? Love you guys so much. Thanks for making my life so much richer.
I've listened to this album many times already now. As a stand-alone piece of work it is up there with their finest moments. I was lucky enough to hear The Little Things That Give You Away at Twickenham last summer - the recorded version here is absolutely breathtaking. The thing that really sends this album supernova however, is if you listen to it back to back with Songs of Innocence. The two together make a unified whole where thematic material is developed across the two albums in a symphonic style. Other reviewers complain that "bits of songs are reused from the last album" - that's the whole point of it. It's a journey from Innocence to Experience. Sometimes we here thematic elements of SOI in their original form, other times the material is developed. Listen to any Beethoven symphony (or any symphony by one of the great composers) and you will here themes stated, developed and then recapitulated. What U2 have done with these two albums is amazing. I can't think of any other artists or bands (Beatles excepted) that have been able to manage their creative output in this way. Musicological considerations aside, this album is a welcome balm to the craziness of the world right now. Can't wait for the European dates to be announced guys. Hope you play London. I'll be down at the front, arms aloft, breathing it all in...
Gorgeous & Glorios - thanks, again & again for Joy.
Was very excited about SOI and SOE being released very close to each other, and I really liked SOI. So far SOE is not living up to my expectations. Will listen some more, but not sure that will change anything for me.
A solid ALBUM ***Red Flag Day***
Red Flag Day - I want to hear this on the radio. A catchy song with a punchy rhythm and great backing vocals (well mixed). There are hints of their WAR album here. The title makes me wonder what a red flag day is...sometimes it better to make songs your own. Slow burn albums often become classics. This is a pleasant mixture of both poppy 'wallpaper music' and humanity. "You're the best thing about me" has instant appeal but I predict I'll tire of it quite quickly, in the same vain as I did with "Staring At the Sun". Where as "The Little Things That Give You Away" is something I think I'll cherish till I'm an old man. There's solid run in the album's track-listing sequence between track 6, "Summer of Love" and track 9. "Landlady" is a slow burn but has something that I think time will deliver. Not a fan of "American Soul". U2 have produced some great moody and aggressive songs like "Acrobat" and "Bullet the Blue Sky", but I think having this song in the mix is idealistic rather than good. Lots more to feel good about with regards to the rest of the album. "Get Out Of Your Own Way" reminds me a little of Coldplay which is not all bad. Nice rhythms in the verse and again - anthemic backing vocals in the chorus. I think this album will appeal to younger audiences as well as older ones. The intro "Love Is All We Have Left" is refreshing in it's slow entry. Don't worry about the vocalizer. It works, and if it weren't U2 you'd wouldn't think twice about it's use. "Lights of Home" reminds me of something from Songs of Innocence - perhaps "Cedarwood Road"? Bono's vocals are better. I'm enjoying hearing more relaxed, warmer, deeper tones coming back in this album. Somewhat reminiscent of his vocal on "Heartland" from the Rattle n' Hum album. Yes, it's great to have piercing higher tones (like Joey Ramone) but used in moderation. I enjoy all the colours in-between Bono's highs and lows. The Unforgettable Fire album has breathtaking vocal tones and performances. Is it the 'digital sound'? Or sinusitis? Harsh nasal tones have dominated U2's last few albums when he's really pushing it. I wish they could be mitigated somewhat to enhance his warmth. Plenty of dynamic sonic sounds again from The Edge. I particularly enjoy his hooks in "Summer Of Love" and the acoustic in "The Showman (Little More Better)" - another catchy number which feels like it could have time-traveled in from the 1960s. Love The Edge's voice. Bono and Edge compliment each other well. Adam, Larry...what a band. Hey guys...Life IS the journey. The End is not a place, it's everywhere. Please don't give up on me... ("someone like me")
Oh me, oh my
_uck me this album is good.
True Greatness
I really think that this album is the best album to date from U2 and also the greatest album I have heard from any artist or band over my entire life. My U2 top 5 changes to: (1) SOE; (2) SOI; (3) Pop; (4) ATYCLB; (5) War. Hope on the next tour they play 'Songs of Experience' and 'Songs of Innocence' and nothing else =0) ***** 10/10
Sounds like "Songs of innocence" B-side
New album is so poor. Three songs are from last album. Without any idea. I am a huge fan of you but I don`t like it. It will be better to make a pause for three years and make real album. With deep lirycs and true music.
I'm proud & thankful
...to be in this time, space and age to experience this fucking amazing album! Have no words for it, it's perfect! Could get my all time favourite, lets see! Thank you so much guys! PS: 'Best thing' is probably the 1st time for me a first-Single doesn't annoy me when I finally hear the album, it became even greater!
Great album if only it were actually del
Superb album! Perhaps one of their finest. Time will prove how significant this record will become. The emotional intelligence & vulnerability is captivating. If only I actually had it! Ordered from U2.com but still awaiting its arrival.
Great Album-flows like an opera
This album does a great job flowing as one solid piece-similar to the Joshua Tree in that aspect. Many gems in this album. I really hope we get to hear more of Red Flag Day and Love is Bigger. Songs of working together to solve problems (waves), hope, and love. Beautiful songs with a deep meaning for those that really listen to the lyrics and hear your message. Thanks for another great album. Hoping you add more dates in North America soon!
Listen to this album with your headphones on uninterrupted. Close your eyes and really feel the emotional lyrics and music. I think this is the best way to make this album your new friend. You will come to love it and sense that this is something really special and as close to excellent as can be.
Songs of Experience
I was sceptical with this new album coming out wondering how many times would I need to listen to it before it grew on me or would I even like it as I weren't the biggest fan of Songs of Innocence though I liked a few songs on it, but after the first time I heard this I just thought what an amazing album and cant stop playing it, too many favourites to name on it yet although TLTTGYA, Landlady and Get out of your own way are front runners for me there's so many I could choose and looking forward to hearing these live, hopefully in Cardiff with a closed roof at the Principality Stadium, keep up the great work
Lives up to it's name
Brilliant album that lives up to it's name - it's like a Greatest Hits of new songs. Red Flag Day could've been on Boy or War. Blackout would've fit into Achtung Baby very easily. You're the best thing about me seems like something from their ATYCLB days. And I just can't say enough about Love is bigger than anything - I've always maintained that I'm their biggest fan because I can hear anything with Bono singing & Edge on guitars. This songs further proves me right.
New sound
I love the new sound of many of the songs; I believe it's the kind of renewal Achtung Baby has been, and we have been waiting for for a long time. But they should have left out The Showman and 13. And the strings version of Lights of home is better than the actual album version, but that's my opinion.
My own album review
http://www.eventhestars.co.uk/2017/12/u2-songs-of-experience.html?m=1 Here's my own review I did for a friend's website. Apologies for interpreting Summer Of Love as possibly about the west coast of Ireland but I wrote this review after one listen!
Your experience is showing!
Wow! What an album. From start to finish. Thank you for these songs. The soundtrack to my life continues. I should have seen it coming. Songs of Innocence was a wonderful album as well. I've loved all your albums at one time or another but I don't think you have released two awesome albums full of wonderful songs like you have with these last two. Definitely "Songs of Experience"! In my honest opinion, another U2 masterpiece. Come to Australia. I would love to hear the songs live. Damn I love MY band!
Landlady alone makes this album worth listening to, it just blossoms like Kite did on ATYCLB. Respect!
Can’t stop hearing the album, every track is amazing, thank you so much for giving us 30 years and more of great music!! Italy loves U2 ❤️
album review
Let me share wit all of fans my short review of album: https://mojmirlieskovsky.wordpress.com/2017/12/04/from-irish-innocence-to-american-experience/ Mojo
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