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
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.