by Patrick Fuller ’21
Set to be released on Dec. 1, U2’s 14th album, Songs of Experience, has fans on the edge of their seats. So far, the band has provided the public with three single tracks amidst the chaos of The Joshua Tree anniversary tour.
The debut single for U2’s new experiment is “The Blackout,” released on Aug. 30. In a conventional manner, the band packaged the song with a video capturing the tune’s performance to an audience in Amsterdam. While the new piece introduces distorted guitar paired with heavy bass and drums, NPR concluded that, “…[Bono’s] melodies on these introductory songs have had a dulled sheen, like over-workshopped polemics.”
However, the lyrics describe a lack of order in the political realm, with the United States as a democratic beacon for the oppressive world. No matter how brilliant the writing, NPR warned, “they can’t sound like a modern version of their old selves without bringing to mind their blander imitators.” Supposedly, by working with OneRepublic’s Ryan Tedder instead of long-time contributors Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois, the band is working to avoid this problem.
The second single, released on Sept. 6, is titled “You’re the Best Thing About Me.” As mentioned by Rolling Stone, the song “is a joyous ear-worm about romantic dissatisfaction.” While Larry Mullen Jr. lays the foundation of the song with stuttering drum patterns, The Edge accentuates the chorus with “pretty shards of melody from his guitar.”
Over the top, Bono sounds younger than ever, gliding through high-pitched falsettos while detailing a contradictory depression. Creatively, a music video crafted by Jos Diaz Contreras and Santiago Carrasquilla of Art Camp accompanies the tune. The short film puts photographs taken by David Mushegain alongside handwritten lyrics, animating them one page at a time. Already the song boasts over 8.5 million plays on Spotify.
Finally, on Nov. 1, U2 released “Get Out of Your Own Way.” Spin calls the work “arena-ready,” with a chorus made to be shouted by millions of fans and an electric guitar backdrop crafted to hypnotize. Interestingly, the end of the tune features a spoken-word cameo by Kendrick Lamar who worked with U2 on his song “XXX.,” off the album DAMN.
Lamar’s monologue brings to light the importance of using successful people as examples to craft an individual morality. Along with the song itself, U2 revealed the album cover for Songs of Experience, featuring Bono’s son Eli holding hands with The Edge’s daughter Sian. Both appear to be barefoot and wearing all black. Moreover, Sian dons the famous helmet worn by the boy on U2’s 1983 album War. Therefore, the album will have dark, political undertones.
With these three singles, U2 has given the world new hope in their continued greatness. Hopefully, with the release of Songs of Experience, the Irish rockers of the ’80s may be able to reemerge as a popular force for a new generation.