U2’s “Songs of Experience” Review

U2 Tackles Politics on Their Dark New Release


Justin Angellar

Throughout the eighties and early nineties, U2 brought arena rock back into the mainstream pop lexicon. Their 1987 album “The Joshua Tree” is remembered as one of the greatest achievements of pop and rock in the eighties.

If U2 had a signature sound, it would be the large grandiose arena-fillers from the height of their cultural relevance. Songs like “With You Without You,” and “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For,” helped define their era of music.

However, Given that forty years have passed since those tracks, how has U2 changed?

Over the course of the 2000’s, U2 has moved toward a less experimental and more traditional rock style. “Songs Of Experience” is the latest release from the revolutionary group, and it really isn’t a very surprising record.

On this newest project, the band has opted for an album that sounds extremely similar to their previous album, “Songs of Innocence” This is the smallest jump stylistically U2 has ever made between albums. And is likely because this album was originally intended to be a companion album to 2014’s “Songs of Innocence.”

Instead, the band decided to scrap the concept of a companion album and rework the project over the course of three years. Still,  it is clear that the majority of these songs were written in 2014.

The lead single for the album, “You’re The Best Thing About Me,” is an upbeat pop track, that sounds close to a combination of classic U2 morphed with modern mainstream music. The song stands as a romantic and light track on an otherwise somewhat intense album.

A large contributor to the serious tone of the album is the amount of overtly political tracks dispersed throughout.

The dreary “American Dream,” and “The Blackout” discuss the current political climate, though the message never really seems fully realized, or elaborated upon.

These songs feel entirely out of place, especially considering their approach to these issues isn’t subtle in any way. The result is more along the lines of lead singer Bono airing his political grievances with no real conclusion or substance.

“Songs of Experience,” sounds like the circumstance in which it was created. A group of ideas from 2014 recording sessions that have been loosely transformed into a politically centered, serious album. Unfortunately, it doesn’t make an especially interesting or memorable endeavor. Hopefully, for the next project, the band will form new ideas rather than reforming old ones.