Author Topic: My (Long, Probably Self Indulgent) Review of SOI.  (Read 3189 times)

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Offline an tha

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My (Long, Probably Self Indulgent) Review of SOI.
« on: September 10, 2014, 05:02:29 AM »
So it has finally arrived – 5 and a half years (or thereabouts) since their 12th studio album, number 13 is with us.

WARNING – This is long, probably rambling and probably self indulgent. All I can ask is that if you want to please bear with me – if you think “Argggh this looks too much like hard work” – fair enough!

Now as is probably quite well known around here this U2 fan has been very disillusioned by the band that is the most important band of his life going back to ATYCLB carrying on through HTDAAB and NLOTH and including Ordinary Love and Invisible.

That isn’t to say that their haven’t been moments, because there has – just not enough of them for me. Maybe I have changed and my expectation of the band has become unreasonable, maybe I have just fell out of love with them (and it was love that I felt for them) maybe the band have indeed become a shadow of the band I loved and it is time to admit it is over – we’ll always have Achtung Baby and Pop, guys....

I feel it is worth explaining that throughout the 90’s I was very much what people may now possibly pejoratively describe as a “Superfan” you know the sort (There are many here I know) the kind who queue up outside record shops and then spend all night listening to the new album, the kind who buy every format of every single, who go to numerous shows, who listen to the band every day, who take time off work to ensure they get their tickets, albums etc. etc.

I joined this forum about 18 months ago as I had been a long time reader and believed that a new U2 album was imminent and I was ready to see if U2 and I could work it out and recapture our love....  Of course the album didn’t quite drop as soon as I and many other expected/hoped, but I stuck around here after finally taking the plunge to sign up as I enjoyed the discussion and debate.

I’ll be the first to acknowledge that I may have rubbed a few (maybe a lot) of people up the wrong way around here and for that I make no apology – The reason I say that is because I have only ever given my honest opinion and have always (to the best of my ability) tried to state that opinion with reason and I have never intentionally been rude to anybody, how others perceive others over the internet is something that I believe we have little to no control over, the written word is open to such wide interpretation, we are all so diverse and add in a dose of passion and it is a volatile cocktail – my Modus Operandi when engaging on Internet forums has always been “Shoot from the hip” but do so without being rude and if people don’t like what you have to say, hey let’s debate it – or you can choose to ignore it.

I have been asked a few times in my time here questions such as “Why hang around, you don’t like the band anymore” “Why post here if you haven’t liked an album by the band in 17 years” – my answer has always been the same:

“I love this band, they have made the most important music of my life, the albums I love the most, the best live music experiences, I enjoy talking with people here, I like the community here and I still carry hope that U2 can wow me again”

I did back myself into a corner a little though recently when I stated that this album was make or break for me as an active U2 fan, I would remain a fan of the work I love from them – but if the new album did not hit home then it was time to move on and no longer actively follow the band – no going to the gigs, no buying the albums and no spending time on a fans forum.

So..... The album has landed and though it hasn’t even been 24 hours yet I have heard enough to know how I feel – music has always been pretty immediate with me, I don’t believe in “trying to like it” “Working at it” etc. etc. I have always believed that you just know after a few listens, it is either there or it isn’t – when it is it tends to grow even more over time, when it isn’t it just does not happen. I remember feeling so empty upon the first listen to ATYCLB, that had never happened before with a U2 album – I tried and tried and it got worse.... HTDAAB I actually disliked from the off and NLOTH never made it past about a week or so of playing, it wasn’t a case of love or hate, or even something in between to watch and see if it flowered, it was just “Meh” total ambivalence.

First off I really didn’t like the idea or the reality of U2 pitching up at Apple’s launch, there is nothing less rock n roll than a room full of corporate people at a corporate event. The whole debate about the merits of being there has been well done here and i’ll say no more about that – it is what it is, it is done.

U2 looked and sounded awkward to me, but then that environment isn’t an easy one to look any other way in unless you are one of the flock, and U2 let’s face it aren’t!

All that aside and my feelings on it what happened next was a SHOCK – U2 announcing an album, to be released on I-tunes for free right now...... ERM WHAT!!!! Didn’t see that coming, kudos to them for this brave very un U2 move - maybe they could have done it without the performance and the...... No I promised I would leave that subject, so I will! The fact is that U2 surprised me - big time, an album to download free of charge with no warning, no leaks, as I say Kudos.

The album....

I have played it through now around 6 times and revisited around 3 or 4 individual tracks a couple of times more.

The Miracle (Of Joey Ramone)

First impressions were "arrrgggh this is a Love and Peace or else style clunker" or even worse a Stand up Comedy like clunker.

I don't think it is - it has a vitality and a wide eyed innocence that gives it more legs than those duds. It is joyous, catchy and has a riff that whilst a bit corny maybe is hefty and you know what is Edge cutting loose, something he has not done enough in my view, I like the stop start riff and I like the song - it isn't ground breaking, it isn't overly adventurous, but it has something that makes it an enjoyable romp - it sounds confident, and strident. First couple of listens had me thinking I shouldn't like this, but sometimes you have to put your prejudices aside and judge a song on how your gut feels and my gut said "OK this is flirting with being a clunker" BUT it has an endearing quality that other clunkers like LAPOE and SUC don't, it's bombast has a charm and I can't dislike it. Plus it has Edge playing Loud and I am a sucker for that. 7/10.

Every Breaking Wave

I really didn't like the admittedly incomplete and bare live version - I liked this on first listen even less, it sounded a mess to me, a hotch potch with too many "U2 by numbers" flashes, it is now one of the songs that has been revisited on it's own today and it has already grown on me. It is U2 by numbers in many ways and is a bit overtly Pop Rock, but it has enough of what made U2 great in it to make it a song I can see me enjoying and enjoying more as it grows - it has an epic, widescreen quality and U2 whilst having trodden that path many times, they tred it well when they get it right - they have got it right here. 7/10

California (There is no end to Love)

This is one that isn't hitting home for me - feels a bit rushed and forced. It is a song that just lacks a pay off for me. It is pleasant enough but does not go anywhere. I can't see this one growing too much either. 5/10.


Song for Someone

Much like California it just hasn't hit home for me. It is too predictable for me, too nice, thematically it isn't a bad idea, it is just too poppy - I haven't checked but my guess is this is one of the songs that has Ryan Tedders footprints all over it. I can see why a lot of people here seem to like it but it is just a bit too Vanilla for me. Coldplay do this sort of stuff and probably a bit better. By this point after a strong opening 1-2, I am starting to get the feeling i got with ATYCLB and Bomb, the songs are drifting by and not really holding my attention. 5/10.

Iris (Hold me Close)

Ah, this has perked me ears up..... Sonically interesting,but underpinned by trademark Edge - thematically grabbing. Meanders a little at times, but I can see this song being a grower. 7/10

Volcano

This has a real New Wave vibe to me - Echos (pardon the pun) of early Echo and The Bunnymen. It probably does not quite reach the heights it threatens to, but I like it. 7/10

Raised by Wolves

The first song that immediately grabbed me. The first "Raised by Wolves" came like a bolt of lightning. Larry excels on this one for me. I feel like I have heard something very similar to this before sometime in the 80's, I can't quite put my finger on it, but I like this song - A LOT! At this point of the album for me the most interesting song U2 have recorded post Pop. 8/10.

Cedarwood Road

How heavy is the start of this, U2 verging on metal.... It then drops off a bit for me at the start of the first verse, when it sounds a bit puny after that intro. I wonder if they could have/should have kept that pace and that vibe, maybe its a case of there is another version of this lying on te cutting room floor that is that harder sound - I really would have been interested to hear it if indeed that is the case. As it is the song is by no  means a bad one and another I can see growing on me more. 7.5/10.

Sleep like a baby Tonight

This is the most adventurous track here for me, Pop/Zooropa could house this. Not sure about the falsetto yet. But plenty here to hold my attention, not too obvious, not inaccessible - just a very smart elecrto tinged song that again I can see growing on me a fair bit. 7.5/10

This is where you can reach me Now

This didn't connect at all at first - it took 3 listens before it started to permeate. It has done so now and (recurring theme here) it has grown and I think will grow on me further. 7/10.

The Troubles

A TOUR DE FORCE. AN ABSOLUTE TOUR DE FORCE.

I LOVE this song. Lykee Li is stunning here, her parts are simple, yes - but flawless and she meshes so well with Bono and the song. This is easily the best thing I have heard from the band post Pop (Disappearing Act it's only rival for me) It has a haunting quality and an atmosphere, atmosphere has always been the thing I hook on to in the U2 songs I like best. It sounds classic and fresh at the same time. It is Epic, touching and moving and it wouldn't sound out of place "On the radio" Relevance, Relevance!!. A perfect combination of U2 at their most yearning but without being cliched and overly earnest and a sound (Thanks to Lykee's parts) that is modern and has a hook, but can send a shiver down the spine. When the subject of a female collaborator was raised the likes of Rhianna were mentioned or some other Pop princess, the fact that U2 went with an artist of this nature and relative obscurity is brave and clever and it works. 9.5/10 - No actually sod it 10/10!!

Now - U2 and I have been sleeping apart for the last 17 years - Today I welcome the band back into my bed... Is this album up with their very best? No, not for me. But it is a lot better than I expected, a lot better for me than the last 3 and whilst there may be an element of new music giddiness in my review and thoughts - i stand by what I said earlier, "you just know" and with this album I feel that is the case. I am excited by the journey I am going to go on with this album and it has been a long time since I have felt this way.

It isn't ground breaking it isn't hugely experimental, but it has charm and style and a swagger that says - "I am what I am, I am proud of what I am" and you know what this U2 fan is proud of it. It isn't self conscious even in it's slightly clumsy moments - the band sound energised and confident and at this stage of their career it is no mean feat.

Welcome back, lads.

Bad news though - looks like I am sticking around.  ;)

Thanks for indulging me (those who have read!) I am excited I suppose that the band I love have got me back on board - it means a lot so apologies for the self indulgence.

Enjoy the ride to come.....













Offline Velvet Dress

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Re: My (Long, Probably Self Indulgent) Review of SOI.
« Reply #1 on: September 10, 2014, 05:08:56 AM »
I enjoyed reading that.   Thanks for the effort in putting it together.

I've liked reading your thoughts, an tha.   Didn't always agree, but I sympathise with and respect where you're coming from.   And I never doubted that you were a true fan.   Only someone who loved U2 deeply could feel the sense of very personal betrayal that sometimes came across from you (and I know, I know, I've felt it too with some of the things they've done -- all's forgiven now).
« Last Edit: September 10, 2014, 05:10:53 AM by Velvet Dress »

surit87

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Re: My (Long, Probably Self Indulgent) Review of SOI.
« Reply #2 on: September 10, 2014, 05:22:38 AM »
Great review an tha! Believe it or not, I actually wanted to read your views fist and foremost. Glad you liked the same songs that i do.

Offline soloyan

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Re: My (Long, Probably Self Indulgent) Review of SOI.
« Reply #3 on: September 10, 2014, 05:32:36 AM »
Like I said, I like you more and more ;-)

lucas.homem

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Re: My (Long, Probably Self Indulgent) Review of SOI.
« Reply #4 on: September 10, 2014, 06:11:09 AM »
Nice review and I believe everybody likes your posts (me included, although I think you underestimate people and the band's intelligence sometimes). I believe I liked SoI more than you do, but that's unimportant. What makes me praise a review is the honesty and the discipline of analyses.

Enjoy your new passion! :)
« Last Edit: September 10, 2014, 06:22:06 AM by lucas.homem »

Offline singnomore

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Re: My (Long, Probably Self Indulgent) Review of SOI.
« Reply #5 on: September 10, 2014, 06:14:15 AM »
Funnily enough there are a few of you around here I was wondering what the album would do for you so thanks for posting this.

Maybe a change to the avatar and the transformation will be complete!  ;)

Offline DEX

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Re: My (Long, Probably Self Indulgent) Review of SOI.
« Reply #6 on: September 10, 2014, 06:16:18 AM »
Thanks for the post. I'm convinced as time goes on, the tracks rated 5 and 7 - 7.5 will increase !!!

Its an album that you cant become bored with - as always!


Offline an tha

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Re: My (Long, Probably Self Indulgent) Review of SOI.
« Reply #7 on: September 10, 2014, 06:23:15 AM »
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Funnily enough there are a few of you around here I was wondering what the album would do for you so thanks for posting this.

Maybe a change to the avatar and the transformation will be complete!  ;)

That photie is my passport photie!!

Thanks to all who have commented too, I realised that the review is self indulgent but I felt I should write it and share.

It's an exciting time for U2 fans, a lot more talk to come from many I am sure. For now I am happy that the band have caught my imagination again...

Offline Chip

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Re: My (Long, Probably Self Indulgent) Review of SOI.
« Reply #8 on: September 10, 2014, 06:59:14 AM »
No, it's not self-indulgent, but a good, thoughtful review. I have a very different opinion of several songs, but the different views of everyone here make things interesting.

Offline Argo

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Re: My (Long, Probably Self Indulgent) Review of SOI.
« Reply #9 on: September 10, 2014, 07:12:25 AM »
Thanks for the review, so of all the threads this one seems most appropriate to give my 2 cents worth. Only been able to listen to entire album twice so far. My current feeling is that this is U2 trying to sound too much like The Killers (or many others) and not doing it as well. And I am not a massive Killers fan. It just feels they are trying too hard to do some new age type thing and it doesnt work. There are some great moments, dont get me wrong. Miracle and Song For Someone in particular. Parts of other songs seem good but fall down eg Raised By Wolves and Cedarwood Road. Edge should be given more of a license to rock. Not do some powerful stuff and fade away. Give me a Bullet The Blue Sky or Until The End of the World. Dont tease me on Cedarwood. Give me the whole 4 minutes.

The most disappointing moment that sums it all up is EBW. I liked the ethereal quality of what we got on 360. They turned it into a modern but wallpapery pop tune. They sold out. If they did this 5 years ago, it might have seemed more ground breaking. Doing it now, they are so late to the party it isnt funny.

The beauty of U2 however, is the depth of the music and this can take a while to sink in, at least for me. And this is why you keep coming back to those albums when the novelty has worn off. Many albums i didnt like initially but now love so I am still hoping. But at the moment, I prefer NLOTH to SOI. I want a soaring Magnificent even if it has been done before (so has EBW by every other pop band). I want my power ballad like Moment of Surrender. New Age U2 isn't quite feeling right. I will give it more time though. I waited too long not to.   

Offline trevgreg

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Re: My (Long, Probably Self Indulgent) Review of SOI.
« Reply #10 on: September 10, 2014, 07:21:29 AM »
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Bad news though - looks like I am sticking around.  ;)

NOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!

... I kid, I kid. ;) Thanks for sharing your thoughts an tha! Didn't agree with absolutely everything, but you did sum up some similar impressions that I had on a few of the songs. And yes, The Troubles is looking like it's the best thing the band has done in awhile.

Looking forward to reading similar reviews from everyone else as well!

Offline an tha

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Re: My (Long, Probably Self Indulgent) Review of SOI.
« Reply #11 on: September 10, 2014, 02:12:49 PM »
You are all too kind.

Heard a couple of 'kids' discussing the albun today on the train, probably around 20. One called Bono 'nobo' (hey at least he knew who he was) but conceded to his pal he liked some of the songs on the album, the other lad said he hadn't listened to it but would.

Another forum I am active on (very different to here in every way) has got a thread for the album in its 'entertainment' section, already attracted some 'colourful' comments, will be interesting to see how that develops...

lucas.homem

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Re: My (Long, Probably Self Indulgent) Review of SOI.
« Reply #12 on: September 10, 2014, 02:18:43 PM »
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You are all too kind.

Heard a couple of 'kids' discussing the albun today on the train, probably around 20. One called Bono 'nobo' (hey at least he knew who he was) but conceded to his pal he liked some of the songs on the album, the other lad said he hadn't listened to it but would.

Another forum I am active on (very different to here in every way) has got a thread for the album in its 'entertainment' section, already attracted some 'colourful' comments, will be interesting to see how that develops...

An tha,

I like to "study" how different groups react to one given subject - and this album is an outstanding subject! hahaha

May you please tell me some of the forums where these discussions are occurring?

Offline an tha

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Re: My (Long, Probably Self Indulgent) Review of SOI.
« Reply #13 on: September 10, 2014, 02:24:06 PM »
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You are all too kind.

Heard a couple of 'kids' discussing the albun today on the train, probably around 20. One called Bono 'nobo' (hey at least he knew who he was) but conceded to his pal he liked some of the songs on the album, the other lad said he hadn't listened to it but would.

Another forum I am active on (very different to here in every way) has got a thread for the album in its 'entertainment' section, already attracted some 'colourful' comments, will be interesting to see how that develops...

An tha,

I like to "study" how different groups react to one given subject - and this album is an outstanding subject! hahaha

May you please tell me some of the forums where these discussions are occurring?

The one I mentioned is on a forum called doublefinish.com - if you go there for a read be warned it is a very 'lively' forum, with a pretty much anything goes mantra - obviously sick stuff that is obviously beyond the pale isn't allowed but it is very shall we say 'colourful'.....

Offline mdmomof7

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Re: My (Long, Probably Self Indulgent) Review of SOI.
« Reply #14 on: September 10, 2014, 02:24:49 PM »
Don't know how I missed this from you, An Tha, I was definitely on the lookout for it. Sleep deprived fog rearing again!   ;)

First, I am so happy for you.  ;)

Second, don't even think about going anywhere, mom said so.

Third, in the 25th hour, Side 1 is making a move, particularly EBW and California.  :o  I'm a bit surprised at myself. Hoping the same for the songs that you find less intriguing.

I'll be looking for your further posts...