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The Benefit of Taking a Breather

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I posted this on another site, so my apologies if some of you are seeing this twice, but I just wanted to share some thoughts.

My full-fledged U2 kick hit about this time last year (maybe a little later) when I saw that U2's albums had gone on sale on iTunes leading up to the 30th anniversary re-release of the Joshua Tree. I had purchased the Perfecto Remix of Mysterious Ways and the Fish Out of Water remix of Even Better Than the Real Thing from the deluxe edition of Achtung Baby, and I decided to pay the few extra dollars to complete the album. I owned the original version of it and enjoyed it immensely, but there I was playing through some of the added material and discovered some brand new favorites like Lady With the Spinning Head, Blow Your House Down, and Where Did It All Go Wrong?, stunned that there was finally a deluxe edition of an album with extra songs actually worth purchasing. Fast forward through months of completing the studio album collection and playing U2 pretty much non-stop to December, when Songs of Experience was finally released. It was the first U2 album I was actually anticipating prior to its release instead of discovering later (or at the last minute, as in the case of Songs of Innocence), and I was so excited to play through it as the songs finished downloading...

...only to find myself highly disappointed. Gone was the U2 that I really enjoyed and instead I found myself with a bunch of late-career rock stars sounding like they were desperate to join the ranks of pop stars less than half their age. I gave it multiple additional chances and tried my level best to appreciate it and perhaps come to discover things that didn't grab me on the first listen, but it just wasn't winning me over.

My U2 fixation neared burnout earlier this year, several months after its release, and wanting to avoid growing tired of the songs I once loved, I took a bit of a U2 breather. A few heavy hitters or otherwise newer discoveries from other albums retained spots in various playlists of mine, but for the most part, I was focused on finding some new music to balance things out a bit.

At some of my shifts at work, I had been assuming DJ duties and rather just throwing on Spotify to some Top 40 or 80s channel (why is that decade's music so popular?), I would play through albums in their entirety to try and expose everyone to "new" music, or at the very least songs that the same overplayed hits had overshadowed on their respective records. Today, I decided to add Songs of Experience to the list, and lo and behold, I found myself enjoying the album far more than I ever had. I maintain much of my criticism of the record that I had previously made, but gone was the animosity behind my critique. There was something about approaching the album with an eagerness to listen to U2 again as well as already knowing exactly what to expect that enhanced my appreciation of it. It seemed so refreshing, and that despite following up the quartet of juggernaut albums that preceded it on today's list (Achtung Baby, Full Moon Fever, The Outsiders, and Hotel California).

I apologize for the long-winded nature of this, but I just figured I'd throw it out there for anyone else like me who perhaps gets jaded on an album, or at the very least not won over early. Play it a few times to get a feel for it, but then put it on the physical or digital shelf for a bit and cleanse your palette with some other music before coming back to it a few weeks or months later. You might be surprised what you find. ;)

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I respect your opinion on the album. I just dont know how you can listen to Red Flag Day, Love is Bigger and a couple of the other tunes and think that. This is some of their better stuff in a long long time.

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Hollywoodswag I experienced the same turnaround as you have had. At first I was very disappointed with this album. Just as you did I took a breather and then gave it a new chance. U2 songs have to grow on me. But there is something else. Almost everytime when a new U2 album is released I am stuck in the familiar sound of the album that was released before. This happens to me very often with U2 albums. I expected another punkrock album, like Songs of Innocence. But U2 chose for a very laidback soft sound with this new album Songs of Experience. It really took me off guard. Why did they choose for this very soft sound?

U2 however always tries to give each album a different sound, although the last 20 years most of the albums didnt have the big leaps in sound as was the case in the eighties with WAR, The Unforgettable Fire, Joshua Tree, Rattle and Hum and Achtung Baby. Any of those albums was unique in sound, it was as if they came from a different planet with each new release in the eighties.

What I dont do however and what you did do is listen to older U2 albums when a new U2 cd is released. I read that you were listening to Joshua Tree and Achtung Baby remixesm then the leap to this album is really big. I can understand your frustration even better if you start comparing those golden oldies with the new stuff.

Last but not least I want to repeat my experience with U2 live. It is at their live performances that their songs will come to life or die. For example I love "American Soul" on the cd, but I have heard them perform it live at the BBC studio and it sounded without any punch. Really disappointing. On the other hand songs that I dont like now can become favorites live. Usually the best prediction if a song is gonna be great live is when Bono is really spiritually attached to a particular song. He will try and make it sound great till it works. 

It is a wild guess anytime which song is gonna sound great live. Man, I have got the goosebumps writing this when I start thinking about the start of the tour very soon!!!

What will they play? How big will U2 make this tour? How huge and popular will the songs become? Playing live is really another birth of the songs...

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