Author Topic: Initial Thoughts on SOE?  (Read 4916 times)

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Offline lucas.homem

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Re: Initial Thoughts on SOE?
« Reply #45 on: December 02, 2017, 05:42:35 PM »
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Weaknesses:

- Many songs straight up blend together if I'm not paying attention. Yes, they're all discrete songs, but that "aesthetic" I was talking about also really hurts the album at times. No stark contrasts, no Mofo into If God Will Send His Angels (extreme example). They picked a flavor and went with it.

That is interesting. I find these songs so easily recognizable and even different that sometimes the sequencing is too abrupt to me. Great contrasts between tracks 1 and 2, 2 and 3, 5 and 6, 8 and 9, 10 and 11, 11 and 12. And, of course, the others also don't quite blend together, in my opinion.

Maybe it's because I only have the downloaded files right now and have to click on each track everytime... or maybe because I've already listened to each song individually (out of the context of the album) and in many different orders.

Offline radiofreenewport

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Re: Initial Thoughts on SOE?
« Reply #46 on: December 02, 2017, 05:58:09 PM »
Thanks to the moderators for bringing the forum back. It's fun to read the reactions to the record so far.

For me, SOE is good in spots, really weak in others, maybe a B+ overall. It's in a league with ATYCLB and HTDAAB, though without the high points of either (Beautiful Day, Walk On, Vertigo, etc.). It feels more cohesive than the last two. My highlights are Little Things (I was fortunate to hear this live in Dublin), Love Is All We Have Left (a wonderful Zooropa-esque opener), The Blackout, and Book of Your Heart (I would've put this in the main 13). Best Thing has grown on me, but I don't know that it's going to have a long shelf life (I like sugar cookies, but I won't eat ten in one sitting). The rework of Song For Someone is a charming end to the record, and I like it better than the original. American Soul is a missed opportunity, especially with the killer momentum of the Lamar bit over the stomping intro. I can totally do without Summer of Love, Red Flag Day, Landlady, and The Showman, which remind me of the more lightweight pop that might've been a B-side in an earlier time (like Sweetest Thing, although that is better than any of the ones I mentioned).

The biggest weakness is, by far, Bono's lyrics. Lazy, overly simple, repetitive, often vapid and cringe-worthy in places. Too many superficial, lightweight concepts (like American Soul). And man, while I'm optimistic by nature, the world is a lot more complicated than "love is [fill in the blank]," and being hammered over the head with it while the daily news makes me want to wretch is not a good thing. FWIW, Neil McCormick replied to me on Twitter to say he thinks they're Bono's best lyrics since ATYCLB It also feels like Edge has lost his mojo as the band's main source of new musical ideas -- some of his bluesy riffs are uninspired, too.

On one hand, as a lifelong fan, it's hard for any record to measure up to their peaks. I'm 51, came on board when I first heard Gloria on MTV, and have seen almost every tour since the original JT tour. So there are my early loves (Boy thru TUF), my coming of age record (JT in my senior year in college), and the crazily productive peaks of Achtung thru Pop with B-sides that are better and more inventive than anything they write now. That said, I'm also a lifelong Bowie fan, and his two last records were positively brilliant; Blackstar is now one of my favorite records of all time, and had an enormous influence on me as a musician and songwriter. I also loved REM's last two records, so it's not as if I'm some old dude who can't get past the glory songs of my youth. ;-)

Bowie and REM also provide relevant context to SOE in other ways. Bowie released his last two records with no fanfare -- both came out of the blue with no rumors or leaks (musicians signed NDAs to enforce the secrecy). He made them both with a small crew of musicians (The Next Day with some of his longtime sidemen, Blackstar with Donny McCaslin's brilliant quartet), one producer, (the brilliant Tony Visconti), and one studio. No hype, no interviews, a few videos -- just a focus on the songs. I was able to take both records just as they were. With U2, I can't help but expect more than this after the endless blather, hype, multiple producers, reworking the record, ad nauseum, etc. Bowie just said "f**k it, I'm David Bowie," while U2 is desperately striving for relevance and radio success, almost embarrassingly so, it seems. (Like others, I wonder if the Live Nation contract influences this.)

REM is relevant because I've been listening a lot to the 25th anniversary of Automatic For The People. REM knew they weren't going to tour behind it, so they weren't concerned with writing songs that would have to go over in arenas or stadia. Michael Stipe has talked recently about their knowing that they finally had major cachet and that radio would play basically anything they released, so they perversely released the slow, spacey Drive as the lead single. I would love to hear what U2 would release if they weren't concerned with big Coldplay-ish whoa-oa-oa choruses for arena shows and if they weren't so concerned with relevance and radio success.

I dunno...as I told my wife and a couple close mates who are all big U2 fans, I miss the days when new U2 records made me cry, dance, and hug my friends, rather than trying to rationalize why I don't love the record. I'll keep listening and how this grows on me, but more than likely, I'll end up listening to a best-of playlist of my fave songs from NTOTH thru SOE, something I thought I'd never do with my favorite band of all time.

Thanks for listening. Cheers, all.

Offline Clarky

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Re: Initial Thoughts on SOE?
« Reply #47 on: December 02, 2017, 06:29:45 PM »
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Fantastic album.
Absolutely love it and am pleasantly surprised.
However, I am shocked at how awful Love is Bigger is. I find it unbelievable this made the album (much less a B side). I deleted it and pray they don't do it live. It sounds like a band in their later 60's on a career-ending casino tour. Barf.
Other than that, I am really loving many tracks on this album :) Very pleased.

lol WHAT?

I really like this album after the first few days. After listening to it a couple of times I layed in bed in the dark on the first night and had my 3rd listen (I think there's something about a 3rd listen where music starts to seep into your veins if you resonate with it...its a make or break moment for me) and I fell in love with the songs. Interestingly, songs like the Blackout and American Soul took on greater impact and more energy when they were in context with the whole album. They really elevated themselves for me.

Love how the albums starts with Love is All We Have Left. Sick of the dad rockers of Vertigo, Mircale and Boots type songs. Bono sounds so much more inspired and prepared to lay it on the line than he did on SOI. There's something about the slight element of getting out of their comfort zone a little on this record that really makes a difference to me.

Offline Manos73

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Re: Initial Thoughts on SOE?
« Reply #48 on: December 02, 2017, 07:12:20 PM »
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Fantastic album.
Absolutely love it and am pleasantly surprised.
However, I am shocked at how awful Love is Bigger is. I find it unbelievable this made the album (much less a B side). I deleted it and pray they don't do it live. It sounds like a band in their later 60's on a career-ending casino tour. Barf.
Other than that, I am really loving many tracks on this album :) Very pleased.

lol WHAT?

I really like this album after the first few days. After listening to it a couple of times I layed in bed in the dark on the first night and had my 3rd listen (I think there's something about a 3rd listen where music starts to seep into your veins if you resonate with it...its a make or break moment for me) and I fell in love with the songs. Interestingly, songs like the Blackout and American Soul took on greater impact and more energy when they were in context with the whole album. They really elevated themselves for me.

Love how the albums starts with Love is All We Have Left. Sick of the dad rockers of Vertigo, Mircale and Boots type songs. Bono sounds so much more inspired and prepared to lay it on the line than he did on SOI. There's something about the slight element of getting out of their comfort zone a little on this record that really makes a difference to me.
Quote from: radiofreenewport link=topic=32595.msg1749902#msg1749902
date=1512262689
Thanks to the moderators for bringing the forum back. It's fun to read the reactions to the record so far.

For me, SOE is good in spots, really weak in others, maybe a B+ overall. It's in a league with ATYCLB and HTDAAB, though without the high points of either (Beautiful Day, Walk On, Vertigo, etc.). It feels more cohesive than the last two. My highlights are Little Things (I was fortunate to hear this live in Dublin), Love Is All We Have Left (a wonderful Zooropa-esque opener), The Blackout, and Book of Your Heart (I would've put this in the main 13). Best Thing has grown on me, but I don't know that it's going to have a long shelf life (I like sugar cookies, but I won't eat ten in one sitting). The rework of Song For Someone is a charming end to the record, and I like it better than the original. American Soul is a missed opportunity, especially with the killer momentum of the Lamar bit over the stomping intro. I can totally do without Summer of Love, Red Flag Day, Landlady, and The Showman, which remind me of the more lightweight pop that might've been a B-side in an earlier time (like Sweetest Thing, although that is better than any of the ones I mentioned).

The biggest weakness is, by far, Bono's lyrics. Lazy, overly simple, repetitive, often vapid and cringe-worthy in places. Too many superficial, lightweight concepts (like American Soul). And man, while I'm optimistic by nature, the world is a lot more complicated than "love is [fill in the blank]," and being hammered over the head with it while the daily news makes me want to wretch is not a good thing. FWIW, Neil McCormick replied to me on Twitter to say he thinks they're Bono's best lyrics since ATYCLB It also feels like Edge has lost his mojo as the band's main source of new musical ideas -- some of his bluesy riffs are uninspired, too.

On one hand, as a lifelong fan, it's hard for any record to measure up to their peaks. I'm 51, came on board when I first heard Gloria on MTV, and have seen almost every tour since the original JT tour. So there are my early loves (Boy thru TUF), my coming of age record (JT in my senior year in college), and the crazily productive peaks of Achtung thru Pop with B-sides that are better and more inventive than anything they write now. That said, I'm also a lifelong Bowie fan, and his two last records were positively brilliant; Blackstar is now one of my favorite records of all time, and had an enormous influence on me as a musician and songwriter. I also loved REM's last two records, so it's not as if I'm some old dude who can't get past the glory songs of my youth. ;-)

Bowie and REM also provide relevant context to SOE in other ways. Bowie released his last two records with no fanfare -- both came out of the blue with no rumors or leaks (musicians signed NDAs to enforce the secrecy). He made them both with a small crew of musicians (The Next Day with some of his longtime sidemen, Blackstar with Donny McCaslin's brilliant quartet), one producer, (the brilliant Tony Visconti), and one studio. No hype, no interviews, a few videos -- just a focus on the songs. I was able to take both records just as they were. With U2, I can't help but expect more than this after the endless blather, hype, multiple producers, reworking the record, ad nauseum, etc. Bowie just said "f**k it, I'm David Bowie," while U2 is desperately striving for relevance and radio success, almost embarrassingly so, it seems. (Like others, I wonder if the Live Nation contract influences this.)

REM is relevant because I've been listening a lot to the 25th anniversary of Automatic For The People. REM knew they weren't going to tour behind it, so they weren't concerned with writing songs that would have to go over in arenas or stadia. Michael Stipe has talked recently about their knowing that they finally had major cachet and that radio would play basically anything they released, so they perversely released the slow, spacey Drive as the lead single. I would love to hear what U2 would release if they weren't concerned with big Coldplay-ish whoa-oa-oa choruses for arena shows and if they weren't so concerned with relevance and radio success.

I dunno...as I told my wife and a couple close mates who are all big U2 fans, I miss the days when new U2 records made me cry, dance, and hug my friends, rather than trying to rationalize why I don't love the record. I'll keep listening and how this grows on me, but more than likely, I'll end up listening to a best-of playlist of my fave songs from NTOTH thru SOE, something I thought I'd never do with my favorite band of all time.

Thanks for listening. Cheers, all.

This. Been trying to say this for the last ten years. The frustration of hearing glimpses of my favorite band.

Offline Clarky

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Re: Initial Thoughts on SOE?
« Reply #49 on: December 02, 2017, 07:25:49 PM »
I get that. I do still feel like U2 is a little too concerned with polishing their music and packaging it up for a commerical purposes. This album could have done with a few more experimental interludes (which is why I really like NLOTH - those touches are fantastic), but for what it is... it's some of their best music in the last 20 years. It really is. I feel like the sum is greater than it's parts, but there's no doubt that at least 3 of the songs off this album will stand the test of time and be held in higher regard than anything off SOI.....surely.

Online trainfanjacob8

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Re: Initial Thoughts on SOE?
« Reply #50 on: December 02, 2017, 07:31:33 PM »
"Love how the albums starts with Love is All We Have Left. Sick of the dad rockers of Vertigo, Mircale and Boots type songs. Bono sounds so much more inspired and prepared to lay it on the line than he did on SOI. There's something about the slight element of getting out of their comfort zone a little on this record that really makes a difference to me."



To me, I take this as the band having more confidence in SOE than the past few albums.

Offline Clarky

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Re: Initial Thoughts on SOE?
« Reply #51 on: December 02, 2017, 07:40:29 PM »
Yep! To me this album is best described as bold. Haven't been able to say that about a U2 record since maybe POP. And I was too young to have an opinion back then, so it's my first time.

Offline Albono

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Re: Initial Thoughts on SOE?
« Reply #52 on: December 02, 2017, 07:50:24 PM »
Surprised of how the album turned out. I think this one sounds more coherent than SOI. I also liked the subtle, atmospheric opening and ending tracks. Bono's voice is superb on both tracks!

Red Flag Day, Summer of Love, The Showman, and Lights of Home are current favorites.

The Little Things, Love is Bigger, are beautiful tracks! And Landlady... wow! Just wow!

Offline BalconyTV

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Re: Initial Thoughts on SOE?
« Reply #53 on: December 02, 2017, 07:54:52 PM »
Generally I like the album. But am just learning that U2 have used a bit of a Haim track on Track 2, and Summer Of Love was a track that One Republic were working on called West Coast. So thats a bit off putting.

:-(

I think Your The Best Thing to American Soul is an unfortunate placed hurdle in the album that I look forward to ending. And then the rest is a good listen.

I think No Line is better. :-P

But its a good album no doubt. But have definite issues with it.

Offline miryclay

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Re: Initial Thoughts on SOE?
« Reply #54 on: December 02, 2017, 08:11:24 PM »
I'm calling it now...Bono's brush with mortality is just Irish shenanigans. Just an writing prop. However, the album does really have a Blackstar vibe. Like with all of these mentions of 'the end' and mystique.

Who knows it could be the end.

Offline bw

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Re: Initial Thoughts on SOE?
« Reply #55 on: December 02, 2017, 08:28:02 PM »
I’ve been a fan since I heard the album version of “Bad” driving home from college in a down pour in 1986. I was so shaken by the song, in a positive way, that I called the radio station when I got home to ask the name and artist of the song. U2 have been a huge, integral part of my life since. My kids say they have been raised musically by U2 and Springsteen in my car. But I digress...

Thus far, SoE seems another U2 album big on hype, light on results. This makes three in a row. Alas, U2 haven’t recovered since the catastrophe of “Boots”, a meager attempt to follow the formula of “Vertigo”, as the opening single of NLOTH. Since HTDAAB, their best material have been songs that were never included on an official U2 album - “Mercy”, “Invisible”, “Ordinary Love”.

These last two albums just don’t have anything big and cinematic - trademarks of U2 that stir me. So far with SoE, I’m just flat out confused what they are striving for musically. My guess is there are better versions of the songs. But because U2, and they admit this, can’t make final decisions - sometimes for years - I think we get too many of these over-produced, stitched together songs that sort of land in no man’s land...

I’ll keep listening - of course - hoping for a breakthrough. But this is the most negative reaction I’ve ever had.

Offline artificialhuman

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Re: Initial Thoughts on SOE?
« Reply #56 on: December 02, 2017, 08:55:19 PM »
I love that there's atmosphere and ambience on this album, even without Eno/ Lanois.  It's one of the things that separate them from other modern rock bands.  By comparison, SoI had no ambience/ atmosphere except in The Troubles and a watered down version in Iris.

I've always had in my U2 wishlist an album full of tracks like Stateless, Disappearing Act, just really minimal and icy and mature (i.e. not pretending to be a young band) tracks.  This is probably the closest I'll get to that. 

Absolute favorite is Landlady - it's so bare and shiny.

Then the Book of Your Heart, which is like Heartland vs Love is Blindness or Luminous Times/ Spanish Eyes era of the b-sides.

Red Flag Day, Little Things... and Get Out of Your Own Way round out my top 5.  All of those songs feel like they achieve liftoff and have a great reward to getting through the track.

Summer of Love, Lights of Home and Love is All We Have Left are catchy, tracks that are around the middle- they're like the One Tree Hills of this record.

The Sci-Fi Soul mix of Best Thing is way ahead of the album version and I'm boggled as to why.  It has so much more personality. 

Love is Bigger, 13 are so similar to Christian band Delirious? (who were constantly compared to U2) that if you blind-taste tested me those tracks I might assume it was Delirious? 

The Showman- reminds me of Lennon on Double Fantasy.  I do like Showman/ Red Flag Day bringing in some reggae which is a really good fit. 

Ordinary Love is a catchy tune in a middle-of-the-road package.  I can't help but think there's some way to boost the drama of the track 10-fold. 

American Soul and Blackout; there's a constant under mixing of The Edge's "guitar on fire" and over-mixing of Bono that really weakens these songs, same w Cedarwood Road, Beautiful Day and the album version of Elevation.  U2 live, those same songs have ear splitting good guitar + pounding drums.  I think Jacknife Lee got it perfect on HTDAAB.  Maybe there's a decent remix of these coming.   

Offline Clarky

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Re: Initial Thoughts on SOE?
« Reply #57 on: December 02, 2017, 09:02:46 PM »
I'm struggling as to why Love Is Bigger isn't getting nearly as much admiration from others as it gets from me.

Offline jjcruiser

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Re: Initial Thoughts on SOE?
« Reply #58 on: December 02, 2017, 09:04:19 PM »
I always waver back and forth.  I remember being so unimpressed with Atomic Bomb.  I thought Vertigo was tired and overdone before I even had the album.  I didn't even make it through to Original of the Species, which turned out to be the best thing on the album. 

And then I went back and read a review I wrote of No Line when it came out and I said it was literally the best thing since Achtung.  Needless to say, I almost never listen to No Line now.  MoS once in a while.

So all that said, 48 hours in and about 20 listens and I have to say I love a few of the songs as much as I've loved anything since Pop, but a few other songs are odd and tough to take seriously.  I practically cry every time I hear Lights of Home so far and Landlady, and others I think are very strong like Blackout and Little Things.  But having a hard time getting into that Get Out/American Soul couplet in the middle and it feels like the band thought that was the heart of the album. 

It's got elements of hip hop, 60s, 80s and 2000s pop, even some Margaritaville country/western twang to it.  Bono's voice is great but not sure I disagree about the simplistic lyrics.  Guitar, drums and bass feel muted except when they crush it (Blackout).

Compared with other U2 albums I feel like it's a step below SoI but a step above No Line?  I guess it will take a few months if not years to know. 

And the Tour will matter with this one.  Either Lights of Home and Love is Bigger will absolutely be devoured live and become transformative anthems or they'll wilt with time.

Offline ian ryan

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Re: Initial Thoughts on SOE?
« Reply #59 on: December 02, 2017, 09:07:11 PM »
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well i'd just like to say....not bad.!!

sure some tracks lag, filler material (LIBTAIIW, 13 There is a light, YBTABTM) but on the whole a solid effort with a plethora of catchy tunes. Absolutely adore Summer of Love, the edge's best licks since In a little while imo. Studio versions of the Blackout and LTTGYA are dull and tame in comparison to their explosive live versions- great songs hidden under the dullness of the studio. Book of Your Heart, worthy of inclusion on the main disc.

I get the thematic link between SOE and SOI, hence why there are so many references to the previous album- this is a first for U2 I think where they've never before made such a blatant reference to their past. Nothing wrong with that, but this is a band that prided themselves on looking forward, not living off the past, but I guess the passage of time and the creature comforts they've accumulated along the way have perhaps tamed their lust for pushing the envelope like they did in the 90''s- the best u2 period.

Still looking forward to the shows in Europe next year..i give it a sold 8/10

Some things to say here...

1) unfortunately (and this is a little disappointing for me too), it looks like the guitar licks from Summer of Love are not from The Edge, but instead a gift from Ryan Tedder to U2, since the licks and the chorus were already being designed to two different songs of OneRepublic, as we can see here: You are not allowed to view links. Register or Login

2) I agree with you regarding The Blackout, but I do think Little Things is way better in the studio version, even if less explosive.

3) I completely disagree with your statement that the links between SOI and SOE are signals of "living off the past". Well, SOI isn't even a successful album to be used as such (btw, it is even surprising to me that U2 didn't try to erase SOI from existance like they did with POP and NLOTH). They are just companions albums as it was intended to be from the beginning. Mostly, making these citations is just the perfect way to convey the ideas present on SOE itself, because experience comes after innocence.

I think we'd be in for a bit of a shock if we found out how much U2 music was created by Eno and Lanois and Lillywhite. If Tedder has a good hook for a U2 song, power to him.