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This SOE is shaping up to be a gem

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23 hours ago, doppers said:

Have listened in the dark to 14 new albums on launch day (3 times before launch day actually!) and can safely say that this is appalling stuff. Lights of home for example is simply embarrassing. It is obvious that this is now just the band playing support to Hewson's egotistical writing.

After 38 years, am still happy to go to concerts but if this is all that they can now write, then keep it to greatest hits and forgotten gems. Stop the embarrassment! ?

 

17 hours ago, doppers said:

Just listen to Lights of Home, American Soul, the Showman ("You look so good" - oh please?), Landlady, The Blackout, they would struggle to get onto any other album including even October, Pop and NLOTH.  Even the stronger tracks are weak enough.  When they finally just do greatest hits tours, there will be precious little from 2017 on it.

they hid disappointing sales of SOI by the apple wheeze but wait to see how low this will be. The tide has gone out and they are left with only Hewson's vast ego to cover their modesty..

Pretty harsh coming from someone with only 3 posts.

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7 hours ago, adrnik said:

It’s not a ‘great’ album but it’s still a proper album that has all the elements flow together quite nicely.

Seems a bit similar to The Script in places.

An album that would play well at a dinner party.

 

 

Yeah, The Blackout and American Soul would be great for a dinner party;)

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I'm in the middle of my initial listening to the CD - I'll wait for universal opinions about it until I've listened to it all the way through a few times.

BUT, did anyone else notice how much better "You're The Best Thing About Me" sounded on CD rather than the YouTube version? It actually rocked on the CD version!

I liked the YouTube version very much, but the proper CD version was extremely powerful! B)

(Of course, this comment blends nicely into my comments on the gift for this year - WAV files ALWAYS sound better than mp3s!)

More later - this is definitely a more upbeat album so far...

 

Edited by dmway

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I am 49 years old and have followed U2 since the Boy album.

SOE is by far the weakest album they have ever made.

No mysterious athmosphere (eg song Unforgettable Fire, With or Without You, Heartland), no magical Edge guitar (eg song In God's Country, The Fly, ...), no vulnerable Bono singing (eg song Bad, Tomorrow, Walk to the Water,..).

U2 used to have something magical and mysterious. The magic has gone.

I cried when I heared the first 3 songs of The Joshua Tree album, I couln't sleep for days before a new album came out, but since the last magical album, Achtung Baby, it all went downhill. With this ugly creature as the latest result. 

Some people suggest to bring Lanois and Eno back, but even they have evolved and are not the same persons anymore as in the 80ties.

U2 will never be able to make albums like The Unforgettable Fire, The Joshua Tree or Achtung Baby again.

Just like Simple Minds will never repeat New Gold Dream, Depeche Mode will never repeat Violator / Songs of Faith and Devotion and The Cure will never repeat Disintegration, .. 

Some media suggested this looked like a goodbye album... I really hope it is! 

Edited by Tobybezeke

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Esperago's Personal Review: U2 - Songs of Experience

My ranking system is based on a scale of U2 songs, not all songs in general.

Here we go...

 

Love is All We Have Left

This song is great. Not that melodic but it overall emotes a great sense of futurism and space. It’s something that would not have been out of place on Zooropa, Passengers or the Million Dollar Hotel soundtrack. It also feels like an unofficial, futuristic follow-up to  One Step Closer to Knowing. I love it - might be my favourite tune on the album, despite it having such a short run time. (9 out of 10)

 

Lights of Home

Groovy and reminds me of a sonic cousin of Cedarwood Road (with ragged acoustic guitar). However, I can’t give The Edge too much credit here as the riff is directly lifted from an old Haim song. It’s definitely a groovy tune and I really enjoy the instrumentation of the song but in reality, the song doesn’t reach out an pull me in. As well, usually, U2 chanting/choral is stuff I normally find quite enjoyable but the end of Lights of Home gets a little church-y feeling with the “free yourself to be yourself” bit. It was an average lyric in the song ‘Iris’ and remains as such, for me, on this tune. (5.5 out of 10)

 

You’re the Best Thing

A fun throwaway-ish, radio friendly song in the tradition of Sweetest Thing (although a lot more groovy). I was average on it for about the first 10 listens but now have developed a greater appreciation for it. It’s catchy in that Beautiful Day sort of way (but nowhere near as epic, of course). I can’t help but sing when I hear it (nor can my kids).  And it sticks in my head throughout the day - a sign of a good melody, I believe. So it’s gone from average to above average. (7 out of 10)

 

Get Out of Your Own Way

I like this song a lot. It comes in smooth, hits where it needs to and then slides away as nicely as it came. I think the melody and lyrics match up exactly, which doesn’t always happen. It’s like both elements of the song were forged from the same base ingredient. I also like the message of “I can help you but it’s your fight”. There’s a whole slew of U2 songs that I think are great but don’t rise to epic-level. This is one of those songs for me - a lot like Gone off of Pop. I love that song but it never claws its way into my soul like songs like One, UTEOTW, Streets, WOWY, etc. Nice tune though, kind of like it was plucked from the same reality-thread as When I Look at the World, Crumbs From Your Table and the album version of Crazy Tonight. (7.5 out of 10)

 

***KENDRICK LAMAR RANT… decent rant which resonates but I’m already tired of hearing it, nevermind down the road,  months and years from now.

 

American Soul

Gosh, this one is a tough one for me. The lyrics are 50% good and 50% lame. The instrumentation and melody are 50% great and 50% yucky. Shouting “You are rock and roll” feels really old man-ish to me. Not young and hip. and the “Refu-Jesus” stuff… and also the Trump hating… not my bag of tea, especially coming from an Irish multi-millionaire. (Note: I’m not pro-Trump. I’m anti-Hillary and anti-Trump but most of all I am anti-the devolution of America. I hope for unity on both sides instead of sensationalism and division and so Bono’s lukewarm statements on the current situation are lame to me.  He should have gone all in or not at all. At least have the conviction to make a statement, regardless if people like me disagree with him doing so… it would have made for a stronger, less awkward song). Now, having said all of this, I absolutely love how American Soul begins melodically. The kick drum and bass line are thick, heavy and driving and don’t have any sort of corny riff that The Edge sometimes throws-in (like he does on the second half of the song, during the you and I are rock and roll parts). Basically, half of this song is sooo good to my ears, that I excuse the other awful half and wind up with something that equates to slightly above average rather than lousy. (6 out of 10)

 

Summer of Love

I both appreciate and have a distaste for the struggles in Aleppo being snuck into a song that, on the surface, sounds like a song about girl and a summer fling. I think it’s great that a song can tackle a serious topic without having to be overly sombre or obvious. But it feels weird to forget about this and just sort of croon the song like it isn’t about a situation of suffering and despair. Lyrically, I dig the song.  It reminds me of sibling to Cedars of Lebanon. I think Bono has a deep talent for capturing the atmosphere of a place and time and I wish he’d do it more. He nails it on Cedars of Lebanon, White as Snow, Miami, Miss Sarajevo, Winter, California, etc. The instrument melody and instruments are fine enough on this tune - sort of wiggly and sneaky-smooth… but the song never really seems to crescendo, which might be on purpose but I feel like there could have been a bit more creativity in the bridge section. In fact, this is a bit of a complaint of mine about U2 songs in general. Many times, the songs are missing hooks or catchy crescendos and bridges (like Discotheque or Blackout or this song). It’s fine enough but would definitely elevate the song a little higher. (6.0 out of 10)

 

Red Flag Day

Hmmm… I feel like I’m not allowed to dislike this song because it’s about refugees taking flight at sea. How dare I! lol.  The thing is, it sounds a bit like “ska” or something. A little like the band Bedouin Soundclash but with Maroon 5-style vocals and little tiny pinch of No Doubt and a twist of 1980s echo when the Edge provides backing vocals. Despite my dislike of these aspects, I have to give U2 props for creating a unique song about an important topic. As well, I have respect for them creating a new type of sonic landscape for themselves within this song, while at the same time reaching down into their early 80s roots (and being a little rough and raw). But still, not really my cup of tea. (4 out of 10)

 

The Showman (A Little More Better)

This is a tough one to review and rate. It’s fun and zingy and I always appreciate the Edge and Bono doing the bro-mance thing. But it’s a weird song. It kind of reminds me a little of Buddy Holly, or perhaps Roy Orbison, with a little early Beatles thrown in. All of which are fine but not what I look for in my U2… as in, I don’t think I’d ever be in the mood to listen to U2 and this type of music at the same time. Again, as in Red Flag Day, I support them for trying out some new sonic ideas and for Bono to be so cheeky and open with his lyrics (describing his own ego). Still though, this song sort of associates itself with the territory of Wild Honey, A Man and a Woman and the unreleased/rare Flower Child. Fine little ditties but songs I never really return to unless I’m doing a complete song-by-song play-through of the album. (4 out of 10)

 

The Little Things That Give You Away

I’m big on this song. The lyrics, the creeping, building melody and a bridge that soars, rather than just acts like filler. The lyrics resonate with my personal experiences in life, even if not directly. I absolutely love the “sometimes the end isn’t coming, sometimes the end is here” line. It’s a thought that I have never really considered and from my perspective, quite a heavy thought at that. For so many people, every day, they must have this realization as they say goodbye to a dying loved one. Bono’s lyrics on the bridge are equally as resonant:  “Sometimes I can’t believe my existence, I see myself from a distance… can’t get back inside…” and so on. Speaks to my spiritual journey over the past years and to my journey with my wife throughout the past few decades. It’s also great that this song builds to a big, huge ending. I’m looking forward to hearing this one in concert. Love this song. (9 out of 10)

 

Landlady

Damn Bono.  Damn him! It’s such a lovely song but goddamn, it’s loveliness just won’t sink into the depths of my being. All because of the use of the term “landlady”. Now, yes, I’ve read the interview where the Edge discusses why they ultimately decided using that term was “okay” but I still can’t get past it. All I picture when I hear Bono singing it is some old cat-lady, grey-haired, 70 year old land lady in a cardigan, stopping by to complain and collect the rent. Now that’s an image I don’t want to conjure when I listen to any music, nevermind a U2 song. Props to Bono for just owning it though, and writing such a sweet song to his wife (and allowing us to be privy to these thoughts). I also am happy with the bridge and his soft-rap-style lyrics during it. It makes the song stronger. My actual thoughts on this song include a fantasy where U2 makes this their next single and just OWNS the landlady aspect. They make a video featuring Bono and a 70 year old landlady having a romance in various locations within a Brooklyn brownstone apartment building. Gazing lovingly into each other’s eyes on the roof, slow dancing next to leaky pipes in the basement, waking up next to each other on a cold winter morn… just a love affair between a geriatric and a rockstar. (6.5 out of 10)

 

The Blackout

I appreciate and enjoy this rock song more every time I hear it. Maybe some of the finest overall work of Larry and Adam - especially Adam. Killer bass riffs and kick drum, and I really verbal cadence of Bono’s verses. The choruses and bridge fall a little flat. I wish the song would boil-over into a frenzy like the live version of Bullet The Blue Sky - it feels like it should. But it doesn’t so all in all, it doesn’t move from a good U2 song into a ‘great’ or ‘epic’ U2 song. Maybe the live version will develop and grow, in the same way Bullet has. (7 out of 10)

 

Love is Bigger than Anything in its Way

All the positive reviews are saying that this is the anthem to beat, but I’m not on the same page as most of these reviews. It’s a nice song, to be sure - and a sweet sentiment to express to his kids. However, it seems to be a paint-by-the-numbers tune. It sounds like a number of other bands could have written the song, which is a strange thing to consider when describing U2, as U2 always sounds so recognizable and U2-y. Even the double singing that happens during the first half of the bridge doesn’t even sound like Bono and the gang. If I just heard that part of the song, with no context, I’d do a double take to really tell if it was Bono. I’m being pretty harsh here, on a song that is overall pretty non-offensive… and uplifting and positive. But it just sort of comes across as a U2 ballad without heart and soul. Maybe the first time they’ve created such a song…? (6.0 out of 10)

 

13 (There is a Light)

First off, I enjoy the tie-ins to Songs of Innocence that are peppered throughout Songs of Experience. I originally dislike the Volcano tie-in but have come around and with ’13’, my opinion is the same. I enjoy it. So this song, well, it’s a nice reflective tune and a decent way to close the album. It doesn’t quite live up to how much I like Grace, Yaweh, Cedars and The Troubles as a closer but it’s nice, meditative and fits nicely into the sonic timeline of a few earlier U2 songs. What I mean, is that it reminds me of successor to ‘The First Time’ or maybe some of the works off of the Million Dollar Hotel OST, such as ‘Never Let Me Go’ and/or ‘Stateless.’ I dig the atmosphere and ambiance of this song. (7 out of 10)

 

Book of Your Heart

I can see why U2 left this off of the album proper. Not that it’s a bad song, but it’s just a little too different in theme to be cohesive with the rest of the album. Actually, this song reminds me of a soundtrack song - not quite from something like a James Bond film but from a similar yet dark movie, with some yearning and pain taking place. Maybe it’s the song that rolls over the end credits. There’s some sort of relationship to Fez-Being Born going on in this song, although I can’t quite put my finger on it. Perhaps, even, it is a spillover from Songs of Ascent. There’s a lot of deep lyrics and chanting going on. For me, it’s a highlight of the deluxe version of Songs of Experience. That being said, I’m not the kind of person that plays a lot of darker, brooding-type music. I usually play music to be uplifted or to sing along. So I imagine this will be one of the gems of U2’s deep catalogue that I go back to and and thoroughly enjoy from time to time. Still quite good, though. (8 out of 10)

 

Lights of Home (St. Peter’s String Version)

I don’t think this version is as good as the album version. The album version just owns what it’s setting out to do and trying to be. This version seems more watered down and more like it was adapted to appear in on a film soundtrack. Interestingly, my theory -my totally unfounded theory- is that this was the ‘backup’ version of the Lights of Home, in the off-chance that Haim wouldn’t grant the rights to sample their song and/or appear doing backup vocals. True or not, this version just isn’t as good as the album version, yet I’m glad they included it, just as they included a few versions of The Troubles on SOI. (4.5 out of 10)

 

*Average Score for Songs of Experience, as calculated:  6.5 out of 10

*My personal, non-calculated opinion score is: 7 out of 10

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4 hours ago, Tobybezeke said:

I am 49 years old and have followed U2 since the Boy album.

SOE is by far the weakest album they have ever made.

No mysterious athmosphere (eg song Unforgettable Fire, With or Without You, Heartland), no magical Edge guitar (eg song In God's Country, The Fly, ...), no vulnerable Bono singing (eg song Bad, Tomorrow, Walk to the Water,..).

U2 used to have something magical and mysterious. The magic has gone.

I cried when I heared the first 3 songs of The Joshua Tree album, I couln't sleep for days before a new album came out, but since the last magical album, Achtung Baby, it all went downhill. With this ugly creature as the latest result. 

Some people suggest to bring Lanois and Eno back, but even they have evolved and are not the same persons anymore as in the 80ties.

U2 will never be able to make albums like The Unforgettable Fire, The Joshua Tree or Achtung Baby again.

Just like Simple Minds will never repeat New Gold Dream, Depeche Mode will never repeat Violator / Songs of Faith and Devotion and The Cure will never repeat Disintegration, .. 

Some media suggested this looked like a goodbye album... I really hope it is! 

Wow that is some statement ! Of course they will never make a JT or AB again, as music moves with the times. I too have followed the band since Boy and always did the midnight queuing up in London on a new release and on this occasion sat waiting for midnight on google play. I wasn’t disappointed no it’s not their best album ever but it’s a bloody good album with 9 great songs on it and 4 good songs, not a song yet I want to skip past. Also what is their worst as every album has had something on it otherwise we wouldn’t still be following them.

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I am 51 yrs old / young and this album is not the stuff of Boy or the Raw tunes I grew up with But as many people who know me as an U2 fan and collector  this is an BELTER OF A ALBUM it cuts me up, with the Powerful Lyrics as an Irish man that was not in touch with his emotional side for an long time I CAN FEEL, SEE,AND TOUCH What they are putting across to us.WOW this album is so alive and relevant to the whole world of today 

I have four children from 28yrs to 7yrs and an beautiful partner who think Iam mental and crazy about U2 

this album is all about been able to talk feel and express What is going on inside of ONE self  

this is what is missing in life today 

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Pre ordered new album 2/11 still not arrived I have this every time I order from u2 shop 

I think next time I'll go to record shop to buy 

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I've played through this album end-to-end only once so far, and I find that it takes multiple listens to really form a proper opinion, but so far, I'd say it's probably in the bottom rung for U2 albums for me.

I had an endlessly long review that I deleted to avoid any TLDR issues, but, at least after my initial play-through, this album is so-so, possibly even duking it out for the position of my least-favorite U2 album with its predecessor (October would be in contention as well because when it's bad, it's bad, but Gloria, ITABTAW and especially I Fall Down cover a multitude of sins). I think that SOE benefits from many strong lyrics in a lot of areas, and the occasional references to songs on the predecessor (American Soul drawing much of its chorus from a snippet in Volcano and 13 appropriating the chorus of Song for Someone and turning it on its head to suit the theme of this album), but when it's using names like Fred, Ned, Jack, and Zack to preserve rhyme scheme, well, come on, even at their silliest, U2 is better than that. I also don't like the flip-flopping between political and personal. At times, the lyrical themes make it feel like two albums stitched together. I have no problem with albums having multiple lyrical themes from song to song, but when there's a disproportionate level of lyrical strength between one theme (the personal being very powerful) and another (the political not so much), it creates a rough contrast.

My biggest issue, though, is the sound of the album. It suffers from the same problem as SOI, which is that it sounds like generic top 40 radio. Gone is U2's usual brand of either creating their own sound or modifying an existing sound with their own flavor (i.e. the 90s material), and instead we're stuck with a Coldplay or OneRepublic album that just happens to have Bono on vocals. I think that when SOE succeeds on the sonic front, it does so far better than SOI, but when it flops, it falls hard. I also think that even some of the highlights (The Blackout, for example), have a structure that seems like it's building to something that never materializes. To expand on that, in the chorus of The Blackout, you get this bass drum beat that sounds almost club-ish, but you have the guitar and the bass in full-on rock mode. I feel like a drum beat that's not so focused on the bass drum alone would have made that song more explosive. YTBTAM suffers even more from an energy drop-off, where you have these amazing guitar-driven verses only to bleed off that energy into the softer chorus.

I'd say that The Little Things is probably the album's strongest overall performance, and YTBTAM, American Soul, and The Blackout are all strong in their own rights. I also think that the album reaches the point of being a tear-jerker in several spots (13 is one of those songs where, were it accompanied by glass of wine, the listener would likely be reduced to a blubbering mess), and I can admire the vulnerability it takes to go there. In an overall sense, though, I'd probably put the album near the bottom of the U2 catalogue based on my first impression. I don't rule out it being a grower, even if I've played the living daylights out of a few songs, but I don't see it climbing high in my rankings.

Oh, and one last highlight: Adam Clayton's bass. Good grief, does that man bring the thunder on this thing.

On a side note, I really hope it's not a goodbye album, but it sure as heck comes off as one in some areas.

Edited by hollywoodswag

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