U2 is a band that really has carved their niche out for themselves. They helped define alternative rock in the 80s, shaping it with records such as The Joshua Tree and War before diving into an experimental phase in the 90s. Their last record was met with distaste after their partnership with Apple to add it to literally every iTunes Library out there, but things are different now. U2 bring their old sound to a modern from in Songs Of Experience.
Songs Of Experience is the sequel to 2014's Songs Of Innocence, only this time you won't have to delete it from your music library if you don't want it. If Songs Of Innocence was the song about learning, Songs Of Experience is the album about what you did learn at the end of the journey. The album begins chillingly with 'Love Is All We Have Left,' its atmospheric soundscape adding a lot of depth to the album. It has some autotune effects making the track sound like something Bon Iver could conjure up, adding to its quality. 'Lights Of Home' follows with more familiar sounds, a punchy, twangy riff bringing some drive to the record. While it does feel a bit underwhelming to start, it builds and becomes a soulful epic by its end. 'The Little Things That Give You Away' serves as the centerpoint of the album, both sonically and thematically. It's very sweet presence builds beautifully as Bono sings about a lifetime of experiences and the difficulty of moving forward.
This wouldn't be a U2 album without something new infused into the mix. Songs Of Experience is undoubtedly mature lyrically, though it does have a trendy vibe to it. 'Red Flag Day,' for example, has that summertime rebellious vibe to it that is the key to any hit of the summer. Kendrick Lamar guests at the end of the anthemic 'Get Out Of Your Own Way' and opens the jamming 'American Soul' to add his more politically charged flair to these song's call-to-arms cry, also expressed in the jamming single 'The Blackout.' Some songs do fall short, such as the wacky 'The Showman (Little More Better)' and 'Landlady,' but for the most part the weathered nature of the lyrics and introspective attitude of every sound of the record is what makes Songs Of Experience impactful. It's not searching to be an alternative hit. Songs like '13 (There Is A Light)' are proof of that. U2 wanted to make an album about the way of life, and that's what they accomplished.
U2 bring their old sound to a modern front in Songs Of Experience, building off of a lifetime of stories, pain, and dreams. This record is the one U2 have needed for a long time now; it's not an experiment, not plagued by promotional gimmicks, and not trying to be something it's not. It's na album that speaks from the heart, and that's where U2 has always shined.
Favorite Tracks: The Little Things That Give You Away, Love Is All We Have Left, The Blackout
Least Favorite Tracks: The Showman (Little More Better), Landlady
Rating: 79 / 100
Stream or buy Songs Of Experience on Apple Music: