Author Topic: It's happened....U2 is now just an average band  (Read 7024 times)

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Offline MothersOfDisappeared

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It's happened....U2 is now just an average band
« on: December 15, 2017, 05:30:16 PM »
First of all, I am not a troll and not here to rouse up trouble, though I just signed up today because I really wanted to express my opinion, unpopular or not. Been a U2 fan from nearly the beginning...seen them live multiple times, in arenas and giant stadiums alike. I saw them in the months following 9/11 at the Erwin Center in Austin, TX and cried my eyes out. I loved POP, if that tells you anything. I think ACHTUNG BABY is one of the finest albums ever made.

But I had low hopes for SOE from the start, especially given the downward spiral the band has been on for several years. SOE confirmed my fears. I'll be honest- I ejected the CD in the middle of track 4. I was too saddened, disappointed at how far one of my favorite bands of all-time has fallen. Are the remaining 9 tracks incredible? Who knows. I'll come back to it in several weeks. Some may say I have no right to judge the album by listening to only 4 tracks but I've heard this song before, so to speak. The first four tracks confirmed my fears- they sounded awfully similar to the previous, uninspired album. I just didn't feel the urge to listen any further, at least for awhile.

If you listen to current U2 and SOE, you can hear how they are no longer about the spaces, the textures, the offhand meanderings away from the flow of the track, and the EDGE (especially). Each song now seems a headlong attempt to plow through as quickly as possible, for a bland 4-minute "radio friendly" single. For example, I thought the ubiquitous Joey Ramone song from the previous album was just dreadful. Everything that made U2 "U2" is gone, for me. In each track, The Edge has been almost completely neutered, reduced to little more than a session player. Perhaps the saddest of all for me. I ejected SOE during Track 4, so I have no idea if they showcase him later. But the last I heard Edge inspire was "Raised by Wolves". Where has the magic gone? Why has he been shoved to the background? How can you reduce your signature sound to nothing? Even Bono sounds lifeless.

What has happened to the band who took risks with ACHTUNG? I know it's unrealistic to expect the experimental sonic textures of that amazing album, but it's incredible to me how "meh" the songs sound. Where are the great hooks of the past? Where are the blazing solo's from Edge? Where are the unpredictable moments that aren't pre-programmed to be part of a 4-minute song for radio? Can you even imagine U2 having the patience these days to craft a bold opening to a song like "Who's Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses" in 2017? Albums like POP and ACHTUNG were rife with those inventive moments, though some considered them too weird on POP. I loved them all.

I know there are those who will love the band "no matter what" and I don't begrudge you your opinion. I'm sure some here will try ripping me to shreds and hey, that's fine. But I'm not one of those people who "just like the old stuff". There were some great moments on the album I called the "Apple album" (released on itunes to everyone). But really, for me, the inspiration is gone, the magic is gone. The band sounds bland and lifeless, which is a horrible shame.
« Last Edit: December 15, 2017, 06:11:56 PM by MothersOfDisappeared »



Offline Blueyedboy

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Re: It's happened....U2 is now just an average band
« Reply #1 on: December 15, 2017, 06:49:01 PM »
I get your frustration and it's no secret that the band are not the same one as they were 20yrs ago, but your judging an album after only 4 songs.
Do you walk out of sports events after only 1/3rd of the game? What about the movies? Do you even know that the Jedi's actually got the better of the Empire? Spoiler Alert...The Death Star didn't get built and Darth Vader didn't survive.

Of course I'm being flippant but SOE is a complete album, not a collection of singles and in fact it arcs ask the way back to SOI and breathes life back into that offering too.

You're more than entitled to your opinion, but airing it based on a brief listen which seems more about proving your previous concieved assumption correct than the quality of the album itself is full of flaws.
I really should just shrug my shoulders and move on but dude you are missing out big time.


Offline MothersOfDisappeared

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Re: It's happened....U2 is now just an average band
« Reply #2 on: December 15, 2017, 06:57:24 PM »
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I get your frustration and it's no secret that the band are not the same one as they were 20yrs ago, but your judging an album after only 4 songs.
Do you walk out of sports events after only 1/3rd of the game? What about the movies? Do you even know that the Jedi's actually got the better of the Empire? Spoiler Alert...The Death Star didn't get built and Darth Vader didn't survive.

Of course I'm being flippant but SOE is a complete album, not a collection of singles and in fact it arcs ask the way back to SOI and breathes life back into that offering too.

You're more than entitled to your opinion, but airing it based on a brief listen which seems more about proving your previous concieved assumption correct than the quality of the album itself is full of flaws.
I really should just shrug my shoulders and move on but dude you are missing out big time.

I understand your point. Really, I do. I knew I would take some flak for making it less than 1/3 of the way through the album. But it was enough for me to understand something- I can't hear "U2" in there anymore, if that makes sense. Yes, bands evolve all the time. They have to. But you can still hear the essence of what MAKES them that band, their essential DNA. I can't hear that in U2 anymore. It seems you can. That's great. I'm sure many share your opinion. But the band seems finished to me. I hope they can rediscover what made them great in the first place.

Offline summerholly

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Re: It's happened....U2 is now just an average band
« Reply #3 on: December 15, 2017, 07:09:54 PM »
U2 have been around so long it probably makes sense that they will morph and perhaps lose fans and pick up new fans.  I would still go to see them if they ever come to where I live which is debatable lol.  It has happened to quite a few bands I grew up with.  I am in my fifties and my favourite era for them was the eighties and nineties raw and energetic with that unmistakable signature sound although I do like some music off their later albums. 

The Edge along with David Gilmour and Carlos Santana is one of my all time favourite guitarists and I agree his wonderful sound it is not so evident on recent albums. I do love music with those "blazing or atmospheric" guitar solos, it is in my DNA!.  U2 will always be one of my all time favourite bands for a number of reasons. No the newer albums haven't grabbed me like the earlier ones but maybe I am getting old and set in my ways when it comes to music and I probably need to sit down and spend some time listening to them to see how they grow on me!  To be honest there is a lot of new music I am not fond of that many people love so I think I am just stuck in a time warp with specific tastes influenced by another era lol.

Offline Chip

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Re: It's happened....U2 is now just an average band
« Reply #4 on: December 15, 2017, 08:23:31 PM »
I really do think this album is different from other albums due to Bono's brush with death. It's such a personal album lyrically that it seems the other band members adapted their style to fit the very personal nature of these songs. You're not alone in not hearing a lot of U2 as a whole in SOE; this is the first U2 album that comes across as a quasi-Bono solo album to me. None of this is to say it's a bad album; it has its own rewards if you dive deep into it. But it is much more like a collection of songs detailing what is most important in life to one individual, IMHO  It's far more concerned with mortality than prior U2 albums, even surpassing ATYCLB on that end.

Offline lucas.homem

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Re: It's happened....U2 is now just an average band
« Reply #5 on: December 16, 2017, 07:01:13 AM »
I get that you (MothersofDisappeared) are angry and had the urge to create this thread, but it's hard and silly to have a discussion about SOE with someone that only heard the first 4 songs. That said, this really caught my attention: "If you listen to current U2 and SOE, you can hear how they are no longer about the spaces, the textures, the offhand meanderings away from the flow of the track".

What? Did you listen to the first track of SOE? Love Is All We Have Left. It's all about texture and space. I don't understand how a fan of "atmospheric U2" would not be immeaditely hooked by that song and have faith for the rest of the album. Well... who knows. Anyway, U2 changed directions a long time ago and nowadays they try to create music that U2 perceive as better, that is, songs with tight songwriting. And I do think they've accomplished that with SOE (mostly after the first 4 tracks) while also bringing back their ability to create atmosphere with sound (but in a more disciplined and modern way). That's a very mature album, and one that makes me happy.
« Last Edit: December 16, 2017, 07:03:07 AM by lucas.homem »

Offline davis

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Re: It's happened....U2 is now just an average band
« Reply #6 on: December 16, 2017, 07:44:28 AM »
Tracks 6 on are much stronger.  At least give them a listen. 

Offline hollywoodswag

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Re: It's happened....U2 is now just an average band
« Reply #7 on: December 16, 2017, 08:48:49 AM »
I'm inclined to agree with the original poster. Even though the lyrical content is strong, the sound is just...bland. Even as U2 reinvented their sound over the years to suit particular styles and what-not, they always did spectacularly. They either had their own unique sound (TUF, TJT, ATYCLB, and NLOTH), or they took existing sounds and built upon them to create much better versions (all the other albums prior to SOI). However, these past two albums have delivered imitation, but without the enhancements the band used to bring to the sound. I know it's a tired comparison at this point, but they're basically Coldplay/OneRepublic albums. That isn't so much a knock on those two bands as they do well at what they set out to achieve (well, I'm not a huge Coldplay fan, but OneRepublic does alright), but I think that while they may be stand-outs in a pop generation, they aren't rock legends like U2, and it bothers me that a band that wasn't afraid to be different seems to be on a quest to be so generic. I've played through the album a number of times, and my enjoyment of it isn't really growing. In fact, in several cases, it's actually deteriorating (American Soul is an example, as it started off as my favorite from the album until its lyrical shallowness became more tiresome). Every song just seems to have something or other missing from it, and even when particular band members shine (SOE should be called the rhythm section show as Adam and Larry bring the goods pretty consistently), on the whole, they don't bring the goods.

Don't get me wrong, SOI and SOE, in an objective sense, are not bad albums. They would be contenders for the best album of a particular band's career if it were almost anyone else, but when stacked up against, well, anything in U2's back catalogue, they don't measure up to the competition. There's not a single major stand-out song on either of them, with Every Breaking Wave, The Blackout, and Summer of Love being as close as they get, in my opinion.

Offline mc

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Re: It's happened....U2 is now just an average band
« Reply #8 on: December 16, 2017, 11:02:56 AM »
Lets be honest... the songs have been crafted as One Republic songs apart from I would say Little Things which is really the only U2 song on the album and I would imagine the one people skip to straight away

Offline lucas.homem

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Re: It's happened....U2 is now just an average band
« Reply #9 on: December 16, 2017, 12:06:39 PM »
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Lets be honest... the songs have been crafted as One Republic songs apart from I would say Little Things which is really the only U2 song on the album and I would imagine the one people skip to straight away

Not at all.

Offline 73October

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Re: It's happened....U2 is now just an average band
« Reply #10 on: December 16, 2017, 01:15:00 PM »
No they are not.  They can do OneRepublic better than OneRepublic for a start.  SOE takes the 'average' music of today and makes it sound better than the original IMHO.  U2 are one of the few bands that can make their music sound like, but better than, another contemporary artist.  It's because 1. they have come to learn their craft with experience and 2. are such a tightly formed band with the same lineup for over 40 years, they have come to sound like they are interdepending on each other during tracks.  So Edge isn't too loud or prominent in the mix now because there's a singer AND a drummer and bassist too.  If anything the rhythm section is much stronger on this album than on a number of previous albums and that's good.
Like TUF and AB (as a previous poster has said), it takes time to get into the album (athough I loved it on first listen) because the sound is a little different to what we might expect.
It's up there with Pop, probably a little better.  And better than TUF and ATYCLB, so I'll hedge my bets and say the best since TJT and AB.

Offline eldercantrell@yahoo.com

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Re: It's happened....U2 is now just an average band
« Reply #11 on: December 16, 2017, 03:02:57 PM »
I'm really curious how divided this album is. I agree that SOE is no Achtung or TJT, or TUF (Yes, I view TUF as U2's first masterpiece), but SOE is still a strong album. To say U2 is just an average band because they can't produce another AB or TJT is a little unfair. An average band can't produce an album of this quality, from start to finish. It's easily their most compelling album since Pop. I'm surprised more people haven't responded to Lights of Home (St. Peters is my favorite track on the album), it blew me away on first listen, that goosebumps moment only great bands can deliver. Little things is terrific, Summer of Love, Red Flag Day, Showman (yes, I love the Showman, pure fun and infectious melody I didn't think U2 was capable of doing any more), Landlady (another favorite with RFD and SOL), Love is Bigger, 13. I personally quite enjoy best thing. I love get out of your own way. The latter probably borrows the most sonically from Killers but is a great melody and guitar that still feels U2 (and I just don't get Beautiful Day personally, let alone city of blinding lights). I do agree that this uses contemporary sounds more than for example No Line (which is a half brilliant/ half dud of an album). This is the first album is ages that I start and go through the entire album start to finish (with the only track I skip being American Soul, which is actually solid song, just not the U2 I particularly enjoy). SOI has actually improved to me with SOE. I didn't mind SOI but it faded really fast for me. I enjoy Bomb, tho it has 4-5 songs I never go back to. ATYCLB same thing. I think it's hard to compare older and newer work cause it's just different U2. Yes, same band, same flair, same Edge, but this is just different U2 to me. Personally, this is my favorite U2 album since Pop. After 15 listens, it just keeps staying with me unlike the last several albums. To each his own tho.

Offline two hearts

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Re: It's happened....U2 is now just an average band
« Reply #12 on: December 18, 2017, 03:08:39 PM »
Totally agree u2 have completely lost it ,  I've listened to the album a few times now, just can't get in to it

Offline vertical42

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Re: It's happened....U2 is now just an average band
« Reply #13 on: December 21, 2017, 07:21:14 AM »
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First of all, I am not a troll and not here to rouse up trouble, though I just signed up today because I really wanted to express my opinion, unpopular or not. Been a U2 fan from nearly the beginning...seen them live multiple times, in arenas and giant stadiums alike. I saw them in the months following 9/11 at the Erwin Center in Austin, TX and cried my eyes out. I loved POP, if that tells you anything. I think ACHTUNG BABY is one of the finest albums ever made.

But I had low hopes for SOE from the start, especially given the downward spiral the band has been on for several years. SOE confirmed my fears. I'll be honest- I ejected the CD in the middle of track 4. I was too saddened, disappointed at how far one of my favorite bands of all-time has fallen. Are the remaining 9 tracks incredible? Who knows. I'll come back to it in several weeks. Some may say I have no right to judge the album by listening to only 4 tracks but I've heard this song before, so to speak. The first four tracks confirmed my fears- they sounded awfully similar to the previous, uninspired album. I just didn't feel the urge to listen any further, at least for awhile.

If you listen to current U2 and SOE, you can hear how they are no longer about the spaces, the textures, the offhand meanderings away from the flow of the track, and the EDGE (especially). Each song now seems a headlong attempt to plow through as quickly as possible, for a bland 4-minute "radio friendly" single. For example, I thought the ubiquitous Joey Ramone song from the previous album was just dreadful. Everything that made U2 "U2" is gone, for me. In each track, The Edge has been almost completely neutered, reduced to little more than a session player. Perhaps the saddest of all for me. I ejected SOE during Track 4, so I have no idea if they showcase him later. But the last I heard Edge inspire was "Raised by Wolves". Where has the magic gone? Why has he been shoved to the background? How can you reduce your signature sound to nothing? Even Bono sounds lifeless.

What has happened to the band who took risks with ACHTUNG? I know it's unrealistic to expect the experimental sonic textures of that amazing album, but it's incredible to me how "meh" the songs sound. Where are the great hooks of the past? Where are the blazing solo's from Edge? Where are the unpredictable moments that aren't pre-programmed to be part of a 4-minute song for radio? Can you even imagine U2 having the patience these days to craft a bold opening to a song like "Who's Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses" in 2017? Albums like POP and ACHTUNG were rife with those inventive moments, though some considered them too weird on POP. I loved them all.

I know there are those who will love the band "no matter what" and I don't begrudge you your opinion. I'm sure some here will try ripping me to shreds and hey, that's fine. But I'm not one of those people who "just like the old stuff". There were some great moments on the album I called the "Apple album" (released on itunes to everyone). But really, for me, the inspiration is gone, the magic is gone. The band sounds bland and lifeless, which is a horrible shame.

I agree with you on SOE.  Looking at the 2000s catalog:

-AYCLB was an album that brought them back to ground after AB & Pop headiness (both of which are in my top spots of their records)

-HTDAAB isn't bad, some very good tracks on it but I can't tell you the last time I listened to it.

-NLOTH, as an overall album I liked a lot.  IMO.an underrated album of theirs in many ways.  Some attempts at getting radio play (see Boots & Crazy Tonight) but some of the deeper material is outstanding.

-SOI strikes me as similar to NLOTH in that there's some attempts at radio friendly but Cedarwood, Wolves, Sleep Like A Baby, Breaking Wave - really, really great.  Unfortunately, this album gets kicked in the teeth again & again due to the Apple giveaway.

SOE - I gave this 15 or so listens since release and it's just not grabbing me.  It's too polished and/or disjointed in many of the tracks.  Some goodness in RFD, LOH, Blackout, Landlady but someone else in here mentioned that in some of the songs either the lyrics are solid but the music doesn't mate up or vice versa.  And I couldn't agree more.

To sum up: Is SOE a terrific album?  Not IMO.  Is it absolute rubbish?  Again, not IMO.  It's just that it's trying sooooo hard to be radio friendly that it falls short for me.  This album - right, wrong, or indifferent - is more about U2 the brand, not U2 the band.
« Last Edit: December 21, 2017, 07:22:59 AM by vertical42 »

Offline eldercantrell@yahoo.com

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Re: It's happened....U2 is now just an average band
« Reply #14 on: December 21, 2017, 09:30:51 AM »
We're all entitled to our opinion. Several thought U2 lost it with No Line. Several thought they lost it with Pop or Zooropa and even achtung (and yes, many still HATE u2 post Joshua Tree and consider AB utter dross). Several lost it with SOI. But many others enjoyed those albums. Many enjoy SOE. You may like or not like the different flavors of U2, but to say they've lost it entirely is just not a fair assessment. Just look at the critics reviews for example. One critic called the Blackout the worst U2 song ever written. NY Times had it in their top 50 songs of the year. One critic said the only good song on the album was the Ordinary Love Extraordinary Remix, which in my opinion is the worst track on the album behind American Soul (I much prefer the original, and both tracks including AS aren't bad songs). Some critics called American Soul the only good song on the album. Some critics hail the Little Things as an all time classic and only good track on SOE. Some called Summer of Love gorgeous and the only good song on the album. For others, Red Flag Day or Lights of Home. You just gotta like what you like, or hate what you hate. But to say U2 has just lost it is but a relative assessment that doesn't apply to everyone, but is ok if it applies to you. To me it's their most compelling album since Pop. Doesn't have to apply to you or anyone else. And that's fine.