I knew you'd say that but I included that line anyway.
If you think every track is crap, then I'm not so sure they could do anything to satisfy you at this point.
And again I ask: what band with three decades behind them made better albums than their first and even second decades?
Exactly. I think this is something some of the "haters" just can't wrap their heads around. It's pretty much impossible for any artist with this sort of longevity to make better music in the third/fourth decade than in the first couple. Springsteen hasn't, the Rolling Stones haven't, and even if the Beatles had stuck around as a band, I doubt they would have been able to, either.
As to the issue of not touring often enough, I can see it both ways. I think it's fantastic that Prince, Springsteen and a number of others are committed to touring and recording new music frequently. But I can also see where artists like U2 might need a break. Touring, even with a couple nights off between gigs (or more) can get hard, no matter how nice your accommodations are. Especially when you have a significant other and kids at home. Who really wants to go weeks or months without seeing their kids?
I can't blame U2 for wanting to take a hiatus, especially now that their kids are growing up and they're getting older themselves. With 30+ years of music under their belts and numerous CDs/tours, they deserve a break and deserve to spend time with their families and pursuing other interests should they choose to do so. It doesn't make them terrible musicians to do that, and it doesn't make them any less "dedicated" to music than others who choose to tour more often. It makes them human. If I were in their shoes, even with how much I love music, I'd do the same thing. In fact, I'm surprised they even did as much touring during the 90s as they did, given the fact that their kids were pretty young back then.
Like someone else said, if U2 were to call it a day now, I'd be sad. But ultimately, I'm just glad they've stuck together for as long as they have and have made a lot of really good/great music during that time. Not many artists can say the same.
Oh good Lord, change the record. NLOTH is horribly produced, a complete mess, has some of the worst lyrics bono has written and has the worst song they've ever recorded on it. It's perfectly acceptable for someone to really dislike a record withouth you dismissing them as 'haters'. I'm not suggesting they can go back to their glory days but surely they can do better than that. You're obviously in denial - either that or you've had a sense of humour bypass.
Many artists have stuck together and made great records - look at Coldplay.
The difference is, Coldplay have only been together, what, 12 years? And their music has already suffered. Perhaps your "point" may be more valid in 10-15 years when Coldplay have been together almost as long as U2. I don't see anyone proclaiming Mylo as being a brilliant album--like Achtung was for U2 at that stage of their career.
Your opinion about the lyrics is completely subjective. Let me ask you: have you ever written lyrics? Do you know anything about the process behind it? It's not as easy as you think, especially when you've been at it as long as Bono. Also, keep in mind, not all of the lyrics on NLOTH were written by Bono. I believe Edge did at least one or two of the songs (from what I remember of the liner notes) and I think that shows (I want to say it was "Magnificent" and "NLOTH" that he co-wrote with Bono on, and those are two of my least favorite songs lyrically).
Also, the point about the fans not liking NLOTH.......I think that's sort of crap. The album received positive reviews from the critics and many fans (check out any review site like Amazon to see fan reviews) liked the CD. When I first picked it up (on release day) I initially thought it was a very different sound for them....but after a few listens, I warmed up to it. Still an album I listen to regularly today. Judging by reviews and what I've read here/other places, lots of other people feel the same.
I don't think U2 are caught up on the fans "not liking it" so much as they are on the decreased album sales. Thing is, no artist, not even a great band like U2, is capable of selling 10 or 20 million albums nowadays. Digital music has made that impossible. Those days of selling 10 million+ albums are over. For a band like U2, I'm sure that's quite an adjustment, but it's one they must make. And 5 million albums sold is certainly nothing to sneeze at. Not many artists are able to do that now.