Think of the Songs Of Innocence backlash over their Apple tie-up or their singer’s recent tax furore. But Songs Of Experience provides us with a genuine reason to fall in love again with four chancers (Bono’s word not mine) from Dublin who made it big. The Edge says: “We knew we wanted something that chimed with Songs Of Innocence, which featured Larry and his son. If it had just been the two of them, it would have been a little too sleek but the military helmet gives it that little tension.
The infectious Get Out Of Your Own Way, certain to become a live anthem, is filled with a besotted dad’s hopes and fears for his daughters Eve and Jordan, complete with a coda directed at himself including this startling line . “We give birth to these songs but it’s our audience who give life and meaning to them,” he decides.
Two songs have the word “light” in the title, Lights Of Home, a co-write with girlband Haim, and 13 (There Is A Light), which draws this explanation from Clayton.
We want this stuff to enter the language.” It’s quite apparent that the delay and subsequent reboot of the album has given it a freshness and urgency that may otherwise have been lacking.
Somehow, the band has managed to capture some of the white knuckle, less complicated live U2 sound in the studio.
It has a combination of innocence and something else going on.” Despite evoking a creeping sense of unease, the album is remarkable for the feel-good sound of many tracks. “Though certain songs are quite intense, a hallmark of this record is that it’s very accessible, has a lot of vitality and melodic power.
“If at least a bunch of them don’t end up becoming fodder for Holiday Inn lounge pianists in 20 years’ time or muzak in an elevator, then we’ll have failed.
The West Coast, referenced in Summer Of Love for instance, is not set on the familiar, opulent American seaboard but the Mediterranean where the Syrian conflict fuels Europe’s devastating refugee crisis.
While the subject matter appears heavy, the album is filled with melodic hooks, heartfelt lyrics and commanding vocals, all given a sparkling, vibrant sheen by chief producers Ryan Tedder (Adele, Beyonce) and Jacknife Lee (The Killers, Snow Patrol).
It could be any partner, any child, any fear, any danger, any hope.
Wider issues are explored on drum and bass-heavy The Blackout, which began, as The Edge as explains, as a song about Bono’s bike accident but re-written to explore the collapse of democracy. that the USA is not just a country but an idea, one that is severely compromised.
When it comes to the complexities of the U2 machine, I find The Edge is the one to offer clarity and insight. “Through a combination of the global climate the album was going to be released into and our own personal stuff, it didn’t seem right to be getting it out in a hurry.