Author Topic: Re-evaluating SOI: How does it stack up?  (Read 654 times)

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Offline TheOriginal

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Re-evaluating SOI: How does it stack up?
« on: January 09, 2018, 03:30:35 PM »
The release of SOE prompted me to go back and re-listen to SOI. SOE is a great album, but to me, SOI is the superior of the two companion records (which seems like an unpopular opinion). SOE is cohesive in theme and sound and has bigger/catchier songs, but I find that SOI is the more interesting, enduring album.
3 years after SOI, it has held up remarkably well and can be legitimately considered a top 5 U2 record and possibly the best of the 21st century (although I probably like ALTYCLB more). SOI is the right balance of U2 experimenting and pushing themselves while remaining true to what they're great at. It is very cohesive and the only mediocre-to-bad song is The Miracle.
One main reason I enjoy SOI so much (especially in comparison to SOE) is that there is an arc to the album where it builds to SFS and Iris, the emotional heart of the album, before transitioning to a very strong series of track to close out the record. Iris--as emtional and personal a song as u2 has written--and Raised by Wolves -- a polished, angry-sounding U2 song set with devastating lyrics-- are for me the best songs of the album. While Bono and Co. apparently weren't completely happy with the (over)production of the album, I feel it's consistent throughout the record and gives it a very unique sound compared to other U2 albums. The "tight" production fits with the tight, narrative focus of the records, and Bono's focus on strong "songwriting" rather than textures works much better than the songs on SOE. You can especially hear the strength of the songwriting in songs like SFS, Raised by Wolves and California.
The lyrics on SOI also feel deeply personal (more so than SOE) and meticulously crafted. SLABT is one of U2's more daring gems post-2000 and the highlight of the 2nd half of the record.
Overall, i feel that SOI has very high peaks and is the most consistent and daring of any record post-2000. The songs are interesting enough that they'll endure over time. To me, SOI belongs in the discussion as the fifth best u2 album, behind AB, JT, ALTYCLB, Zooropa and maybe Pop.
What are your thoughts, looking back on SOI?
« Last Edit: January 10, 2018, 10:02:31 AM by TheOriginal »



Offline miracle_al

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Re: Re-evaluating SOI: How does it stack up?
« Reply #1 on: January 09, 2018, 04:11:38 PM »
I agree.  I think SOI is a terrific album.  All of the songs sounded great live, and garnered as much applause as the older hits.  I love that the entire show was built around the new songs.  It's definitely in my upper tier of U2 albums.  Too bad that the release strategy has overshadowed the material.  It's really good. 

Offline Argo

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Re: Re-evaluating SOI: How does it stack up?
« Reply #2 on: January 09, 2018, 05:54:13 PM »
I had SOI as my 4th favourite (behind AB, JT and Pop). SOE certainly doesn't change that but it is pretty solid. For me, SOI is consistently strong throughout, but without a strong lead single or best song. SOE also doesn't have a strong best song to me and not as consistently strong as SOI. It does have a fresher U2 sound to it given the pop-ish songs on it and songs that are a bit different like Lights of Home and Love is All We Have Left for example.

If I go through and compare SOI and SOE track by track, it comes out pretty even for me (either 8-6 to SOI or 7-7) but if I rank each song on each album and then compare them to each other (ie my favourite off each album against each other, then 2nd favourite and so on), SOI kicks butt.

Offline Bundang Dave

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Re: Re-evaluating SOI: How does it stack up?
« Reply #3 on: January 09, 2018, 09:13:01 PM »
I prefer SOI to SOE too, though Iris, SFS, Raised by Wolves, and California are 4 the tracks I usually skip on it. To me, it's Volcano, SLABT, The Troubles, and Lucifer's Hands that steal the show.

Offline Argo

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Re: Re-evaluating SOI: How does it stack up?
« Reply #4 on: January 09, 2018, 09:35:29 PM »
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I prefer SOI to SOE too, though Iris, SFS, Raised by Wolves, and California are 4 the tracks I usually skip on it. To me, it's Volcano, SLABT, The Troubles, and Lucifer's Hands that steal the show.

Agree on SLABT and The Troubles but Volcano and Lucifer are skips for me (especially Lucifer, along with Reach Me Now). Love Iris, SFS and California. RBW ok. EBW is probably my favourite song, followed by Cedarwood but it's pretty competitive at the top there.

Offline iced

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Re: Re-evaluating SOI: How does it stack up?
« Reply #5 on: January 10, 2018, 02:45:55 AM »
It took me awhile to actually fully appreciate this album.

At the time, I thought members of the forum were delusional with their praise.

I think it's a fantastic record and find it a vastly superior product then their follow-up.

Offline TheOriginal

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Re: Re-evaluating SOI: How does it stack up?
« Reply #6 on: January 10, 2018, 10:05:48 AM »
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I had SOI as my 4th favourite (behind AB, JT and Pop). SOE certainly doesn't change that but it is pretty solid. For me, SOI is consistently strong throughout, but without a strong lead single or best song. SOE also doesn't have a strong best song to me and not as consistently strong as SOI. It does have a fresher U2 sound to it given the pop-ish songs on it and songs that are a bit different like Lights of Home and Love is All We Have Left for example.

If I go through and compare SOI and SOE track by track, it comes out pretty even for me (either 8-6 to SOI or 7-7) but if I rank each song on each album and then compare them to each other (ie my favourite off each album against each other, then 2nd favourite and so on), SOI kicks butt.

Yeah, I think SOI suffered because it didn't have any standout single (EBW is probably the best "single" type and releasing Miracle first was probably a mistake), but the songs are more rewarding. Comparing SOI and SOE track-by-track definitely favours SOI.

Offline Vox

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Re: Re-evaluating SOI: How does it stack up?
« Reply #7 on: January 10, 2018, 10:44:46 AM »
I've been meaning to go back and listen to Songs of Innocence again.  I never clicked with that album, in any way, for some reason.  There are solid tunes on it, just not many that I go back to when I sit down and listen to music.  I'm glad others seem to enjoy it, though.  I like the idea of making a playlist of both albums and pushing the shuffle.

Offline NintendoFan204

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Re: Re-evaluating SOI: How does it stack up?
« Reply #8 on: January 10, 2018, 03:58:55 PM »
I agree with a lot of what you said, and, interestingly, your top albums are also pretty much the same as mine (though we likely have a different order in our ranking of them).

I currently prefer SOI to SOE (though I like both). SOI is super consistent, but it is missing a song that is "holy crap" good. It has several songs that would make my Top 50 U2 songs, but none that would make my Top 10. SOE is similar in that way, but SOI overall edges it for me.

I am currently 18 and grew up a U2 fan. But I didn't listen to them much in my early teens. When I was in high school, and after SOI had already come out, I started listening to them on my own and grew to love them more than ever. I knew most of their songs already, but I came to love many that I didn't know well or didn't appreciate when I was younger. SOI was the one album that didn't connect with me at first. I was unfamiliar with it and it just didn't do much for me on my first couple of listens. I therefore came to the conclusion that their new stuff just wasn't as good as the albums that came before. But I always have been one to give things a chance and I listened to SOI more over the course of time. Slowly, I grew to love the album. It now ranks as probably my 6th or 7th favorite U2 album.

So I definitely appreciate SOI! It's a shame that that whole Apple controversy occurred, shining a dark light on the album in the process. SOI (and SOE) both deserve praise, but sadly they won't get the amount they deserve from casual listeners nor music critics (not yet, at least). In fact, if U2 released TJT today, I don't think it would get the same acclaim it got when it came out. Not because the album isn't excellent, but because it's not what music critics want to hear today. SOI and SOE aren't either, so I'm not surprised by the lukewarm critical reception for both albums. I am happy, however, that most U2 fans seem to overall like both SOI and SOE. After all, that is what is more important. Hopefully the band feels the same way!

Offline davis

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Re: Re-evaluating SOI: How does it stack up?
« Reply #9 on: January 10, 2018, 04:15:45 PM »
Wow, I really disagree.  SOI is a mixed bag, at best, to me.  SOE is, in my opinion, far superior in terms of overall cohesion, the strength of individual songs, and production. 

Offline summerholly

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Re: Re-evaluating SOI: How does it stack up?
« Reply #10 on: January 10, 2018, 04:21:54 PM »
I am a big fan of their early work and lost touch with them (I didn't even realise that they were still making albums lol) until SOI landed in my iTunes.  Well being U2 of course I gave them a chance and downloaded the album onto my playlist on shuffle and I have to say it took awhile but I toughed it out and have come to enjoy the songs.  I like Iris and Volcano in particular and the Troubles but quite happy to listen to the others as well.  Perhaps they don't light me in the same way their early stuff which is also on my playlist does but I am glad they did the iTunes thing because otherwise I would have been none the wiser and my local radio station never plays them.  Still not sure about SOE at this point I prefer SOI.
« Last Edit: January 10, 2018, 04:27:48 PM by summerholly »

Offline Blueyedboy

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Re: Re-evaluating SOI: How does it stack up?
« Reply #11 on: January 10, 2018, 05:46:29 PM »
Having been around these forums when SOI was released I think its pretty fair to say that the love for the album grew when the I&E tour kicked off and a lot of the songs came into their own in the live arena.

SOE doesn't have the luxury of that treatment just yet so it's pretty difficult to apply an equally weighted score right now.

As a stand alone piece of work, I much prefer SOE. I think it benefits from it knowing what type of album it wants to be and carry's on a vibe throughout the record.

Offline BalconyTV

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Re: Re-evaluating SOI: How does it stack up?
« Reply #12 on: January 10, 2018, 08:13:01 PM »
SOI is a better listen than it is a memory.

I listened to to both albums just the other day. SOI is better because it doesn't have the dreadfulness of Best Thing - American Soul. Its more cohesive sounding too. SOE has a lot more variety in a pick and mix kind of way. That makes it in a way more appealing. But at the end of the day... just give me a Dairy Milk :-)

Offline TheOriginal

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Re: Re-evaluating SOI: How does it stack up?
« Reply #13 on: January 10, 2018, 10:55:20 PM »
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I agree with a lot of what you said, and, interestingly, your top albums are also pretty much the same as mine (though we likely have a different order in our ranking of them).

I currently prefer SOI to SOE (though I like both). SOI is super consistent, but it is missing a song that is "holy crap" good. It has several songs that would make my Top 50 U2 songs, but none that would make my Top 10. SOE is similar in that way, but SOI overall edges it for me.

I am currently 18 and grew up a U2 fan. But I didn't listen to them much in my early teens. When I was in high school, and after SOI had already come out, I started listening to them on my own and grew to love them more than ever. I knew most of their songs already, but I came to love many that I didn't know well or didn't appreciate when I was younger. SOI was the one album that didn't connect with me at first. I was unfamiliar with it and it just didn't do much for me on my first couple of listens. I therefore came to the conclusion that their new stuff just wasn't as good as the albums that came before. But I always have been one to give things a chance and I listened to SOI more over the course of time. Slowly, I grew to love the album. It now ranks as probably my 6th or 7th favorite U2 album.

So I definitely appreciate SOI! It's a shame that that whole Apple controversy occurred, shining a dark light on the album in the process. SOI (and SOE) both deserve praise, but sadly they won't get the amount they deserve from casual listeners nor music critics (not yet, at least). In fact, if U2 released TJT today, I don't think it would get the same acclaim it got when it came out. Not because the album isn't excellent, but because it's not what music critics want to hear today. SOI and SOE aren't either, so I'm not surprised by the lukewarm critical reception for both albums. I am happy, however, that most U2 fans seem to overall like both SOI and SOE. After all, that is what is more important. Hopefully the band feels the same way!

Wow, I'm around the same age and had almost the same U2 experience growing up. I grew up listening to HTDAAB and ALTYCLB hits and didn't pay much attention until my mid-teens when I truly listened to TJT (and promptly fell in love with 90s U2). I basically felt that U2's later work was just not as good as the stuff before so I didn't give SOI a fair chance. A few years later as a much 'wiser' and more knowledgable u2 fan, I love SOI now. Glad to see another "young"-ish fan!

Offline NintendoFan204

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Re: Re-evaluating SOI: How does it stack up?
« Reply #14 on: January 11, 2018, 06:08:39 AM »
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Wow, I'm around the same age and had almost the same U2 experience growing up. I grew up listening to HTDAAB and ALTYCLB hits and didn't pay much attention until my mid-teens when I truly listened to TJT (and promptly fell in love with 90s U2). I basically felt that U2's later work was just not as good as the stuff before so I didn't give SOI a fair chance. A few years later as a much 'wiser' and more knowledgable u2 fan, I love SOI now. Glad to see another "young"-ish fan!

Haha, that's awesome! I was quick to love 90's U2 as well. It is indeed nice to see another young fan! Fans our age aren't as common as they should be!
« Last Edit: January 11, 2018, 06:12:42 AM by NintendoFan204 »