World-dominating rock band U2 faced backlash for making 2014’s Songs Of Innocence automatically download on all Apple devices. Aside from this disastrous PR stunt, the record saw the Irish four-piece deliver their most cohesive and exciting songs in a long time. This month sees its counterpart release Songs of Experience.
Like before, U2 take a stripped-back approach, with simple rock songs and no extra frills. Lights of Home captures this with gritty, metallic guitars from The Edge, as Bono delivers the anthemic chorus over a stomping beat – reminiscent of their optimistic 90s era. You’re The Best Thing About Me is similar in approach, but reverts to The Edge’s signature shimmering, delayed guitars.
U2 also break new ground, while continuing to give big choruses throughout: American Soul is a classic protest song with all the fuzz of The Black Keys, and the fun, wide-eyed The Showman is pure 60s rock’n’roll, as Bono cries “You looks so good!” providing one of the strongest hooks on the album.
Summer of Love has a slight Latin-inspired rhythm, while Love Is All We Have Left, Get Out of Your Own Way and 13 all have a sparse, reflective tone. Landlady proves another strong moment with some of Bono’s most heartfelt lyrics, “Every sweet confusion, every grand illusion, I will win and call it losing, if the prize is not for you.”
Songs of Experience is a solid album. It proves their last one wasn’t a one-off, and the band sound their most consistent and exciting since The Joshua Tree.
Edited by Ginny Wong