Kev, according to Bono "all our albums have been down to the last minute"..when they were with Island, there was a deadline that had to be met. Seems they have more wiggle room with UMG.. Let's take a look at time between albums. They used to average 3 years, then 4 .
2009..the 25th of this past month is 5 years since NLOTH.. they themselves have said the album was an overall flop for them and it gained about 50% U2 fan friendly
2004 Bomb song of the year, plus 4 singles getting radio play
2000 ATYCLB, one huge hit with 3 other singles getting air play
1997 Pop, They felt that was not done the way they could of or would of....Island just wanted to get the product out ...they would like to take another crack at that...regardless of hardly any radio play, it is their most under rated , innovative and adventurous effort,, a fan fave! But to them, an overall flop. Little hard on themselves imo..We as fans embraced it while the masses didn't
1993 3 years before comes Zooropa, an extension of Achtung Baby which was 3 years prior in 1990..both albums providing ample radio play and hits most coming from AB, a masterpiece.
1987 3 years prior to AB comes the Josha Tree with 3 mega hits, a fourth single getting air play with R&H wi hit and 3 more singles.., another masterpiece from JT
The list goes on with 3 years wait and the end results are more radio played singles with rushed recorded albums going with a gut instinct.. "it was what it was" ....now instead,they still haven't found what they're looking for and we will wait it out..
I felt OL and Invisible were testing the waters..and watched as both tunes dwindled to the wayside, out of the the 3 million downloads, bet 80% were fans, the other 20% did it for charity.. it has come to a halt in ratings
I'll wait but will give my final thought to this.. they have raised the bar in trying to out do their own selves and most fans and music lovers have now raised the bar on them.. read a quote, "it better be as good and popular as the Joshua Tree of Achtung Baby was because there will be great expectations by the band, fans and critics?"