Let’s get one thing clear — U2 is the best rock band in the world. It’s really not even close.
The new record was supposed to be out last year and was pushed back. It was released this month and it is easily the best record of the year for me. Another track by track review…
Love Is All We Have Left — It’s a little unusual for U2 to start an album with a slower song. Usually they come out swinging, but here they set a serious tone for the record. It’s not my favorite song on the record, but it plays an important role.
Lights of Home — More of an acoustic driven song which is also odd for them. There’s an acoustic riff that runs throughout the song. Even though it’s a little different for them, it still sounds like U2.
You’re The Best Thing About Me — Now this is 100% U2 that we know and love. Super catchy, Edge’s guitar leads the way, great bass line, simple drums. And then that guitar sounds hits — a little Joshua Tree in there. No other band sounds like this.
Get Out Of Your Own Way — This one sounds more late 90s/early 2000 U2. I really like that era of the band, so this is one of my favorites on the record. Bono is simply the best lyricist around. He communicates so much in 4 minutes.
American Soul — This is where the album has its bite. Bono takes dead aim at the current political situation and nails it. American has lost its soul and he describes it perfectly. Cool riff the song is built around. U2 is the best because they are the social conscience of rock and roll.
Summer Of Love — The band pulls back a little bit with Summer of Love. Mostly bass and Bono’s voice with a little guitar over the top. Simple song executed to perfection.
Red Flag Day — This one sounds like it’s off one of their first records. I love that the band covers every era of the band on this record. Even the production sounds like it fits the time frame. I love that the band is willing to own and embrace everything they have done over their career.
The Showman — I didn’t really like this song when I first heard it. It might be the one song that doesn’t sound like U2. It almost sounds like the Beach Boys at times. It serves as a break from the intensity of the record.
The Little Things That Give You Away — This is where the record goes up a notch. The first 2 1/2 minutes of this song sound like it could have been on Achtung Baby. But then it moves into something else. For me, it’s hard to describe. It feels like church — for like of a better word. The songs speaks of longing and failure and hope and belief. It’s simply beautiful and brings tears every time (not great for driving)
Landlady — Another beautiful song. I’m assuming this one is for Bono’s wife. He refers to her as the landlady — which is a little odd — but it makes perfect sense in the song. Bono using the metaphor of his wife paying the rent when he was broke can be taken a million ways, but no matter which way, it’s a song that honors her in a way I couldn’t have seen. Another beautiful song that ends like a good gospel song.
The Blackout — This one probably was tagged to be the opening song on the record. It probably fits best there — cool guitar intro followed by fantastic bass line. It’s got a dance beat but then kicks in for the chorus. Reminds me of something on Vertigo.
Love is Bigger Than Anything In Its Way — More classic U2 here. Bono wails in classic Bono style. This song would be great in a movie — has that big sound that could fill a movie screen. Not too many bands can pull something this big off, but U2 does it with no problem.
13 (There Is A Light) — The regular version of the record ends with 13 which is simply brilliant. They weave the chorus from Song for Someone from Songs of Innocence into this song. The verses are different but the familiar chorus wraps the two albums together. Song for Someone is my favorite song from Innocence, so it’s a perfect end to this record. He sings the song a little differently — not as full throated. Almost like he’s a much older man singing it. Another beautiful and moving song that trails off at the end, almost like it’s not finished yet and leaves you wanting more.
Of course, I got the deluxe edition with comes with a couple more songs.
Ordinary Love — I believe this song was from a movie but never made a U2 record. It’s a really good song — I think a little different than the original. Probably would have worked better than The Showman on the regular version of the record.
Book of Your Heart — Another one that sounds like it could have been from one of the first records. The songs builds but doesn’t really get to where it could have gone. Decent song but works well as a bonus track.
There are 3 more alternate versions of songs already on the record. I’m not a huge fan of having different versions so to me they are just filler songs really. But getting the two bonus tracks was worth the extra couple of bucks.
Not that they needed to, but U2 cemented their place as my favorite band with this record. They just don’t miss. They have their finger on the pulse of the country and continue to put out records that move me. In a year that sucked for many reasons in this country, thank God for U2 to put it in perspective.