Friday 27 April 2018

U2 haven't yet quite found what they're looking for

Band suffered a crisis of confidence but new album shows it has almost got its songwriting mojo back

CUPERTINO, CA - SEPTEMBER 09: Apple CEO Tim Cook (L) greets the crowd with U2 singer Bono (R) as The Edge looks on during an Apple special event at the Flint Center for the Performing Arts on September 9, 2014 in Cupertino, California. Apple unveiled the Apple Watch wearable tech and two new iPhones, the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
CUPERTINO, CA - SEPTEMBER 09: Apple CEO Tim Cook (L) greets the crowd with U2 singer Bono (R) as The Edge looks on during an Apple special event at the Flint Center for the Performing Arts on September 9, 2014 in Cupertino, California. Apple unveiled the Apple Watch wearable tech and two new iPhones, the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Bono and Apple boss Tim Cook do their ET finger touch as the Edge and Larry Mullen applaud.
Bono gestures to the audience after performing at an Apple event at the Flint Center in Cupertino, California
Apple CEO Tim Cook embraces Bono of U2 during an Apple event announcing the iPhone 6 and the Apple Watch
Brendan O'Connor

Brendan O'Connor

A lack of confidence is not something you would ever associate with Bono but in fact, behind it all, it is a crisis of confidence that explains everything about U2 right now. Even the fact of releasing their new album Songs of Innocence to half a billion people, whether that half a billion people, want it or not, of avoiding the charts, because in Bono's opinion the charts don't work anymore, says something.

U2 are obsessed with being the biggest band in the world, and even if the charts won't register them as such anymore, well then they will find another way to prove it.

The album itself speaks of a crisis of confidence too. No more than their last album, the relatively poorly received and underrated No Line on the Horizon, Songs of Innocence has taken years to get right and has been through the hands of a number of producers along the way. And the producers who got it across the line in the end, after several false starts, were not ones who would create a U2 sound; they were producers who would put a gloss of currency on U2's music, producers who would take the band's songs and make them sound less like U2 and more like pop.

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