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Old 12-31-2018, 06:38 AM   #41
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I can't say it's hit any deeper level for me, or tempted me to rediscover it with some B-sides and a new track listing to find its actually spectacular and a near-classic (that happened to me with ATYCLB). Personally, I don't think this album has that it in it. It's good, not great or grand, and misses in many places it could have hit. Sadly. Nearly every U2 record has had that issue for me since 2005.

To me, SOE is a tale of two aesthetics: the deep, learned U2 who have grist to grind and feel they've learned something to pass along. And the sad, overreaching U2 who accept cheap gimmicks and cameos to find relevance and sound like a karaoke band version of themselves. The album splits squarely in half for me on those lines. LIAWHL, 13, Blackout, TLTTGYA, Red Flag Day, Summer of Love (a little), Landlady, and LIBTAIIW are all in that first camp. The others are campy duds for me. I think they got halfway to making the album they wanted to make, and then went for the universal songs the rest of the way. Sadly, in my opinion.

For me the scariest part is that Bono is on record calling this a major hit, or saying they have their best reviews in years. I feel like late 80s/90s Bono wouldn't have seen it this way, and that the band is now accepting that their ceiling is just lower. It's not the worst they've ever done, but it doesn't even get halfway up to the heights they've reached before.
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Old 12-31-2018, 11:05 AM   #42
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I can't say it's hit any deeper level for me, or tempted me to rediscover it with some B-sides and a new track listing to find its actually spectacular and a near-classic (that happened to me with ATYCLB). Personally, I don't think this album has that it in it. It's good, not great or grand, and misses in many places it could have hit. Sadly. Nearly every U2 record has had that issue for me since 2005.

To me, SOE is a tale of two aesthetics: the deep, learned U2 who have grist to grind and feel they've learned something to pass along. And the sad, overreaching U2 who accept cheap gimmicks and cameos to find relevance and sound like a karaoke band version of themselves. The album splits squarely in half for me on those lines. LIAWHL, 13, Blackout, TLTTGYA, Red Flag Day, Summer of Love (a little), Landlady, and LIBTAIIW are all in that first camp. The others are campy duds for me. I think they got halfway to making the album they wanted to make, and then went for the universal songs the rest of the way. Sadly, in my opinion.

For me the scariest part is that Bono is on record calling this a major hit, or saying they have their best reviews in years. I feel like late 80s/90s Bono wouldn't have seen it this way, and that the band is now accepting that their ceiling is just lower. It's not the worst they've ever done, but it doesn't even get halfway up to the heights they've reached before.
I go on a lot of band message boards and see people talk about the inevitable "artistic downgrade" or "strive for relevance" for such-and-such artist which, almost without fail, somehow started around the year 2000. Perhaps uncoincidentally, that's around the time forums like these started to take off and we had places to talk about these things 24/7. Or have every single interview on our fingertips where we can overanalyze the quotes or backgrounds of things, as opposed to the old days of reading a Rolling Stone article over and over and posting it on our teenage wall (or whatever floated our boat for the lack of information back then!).

Personally, I don't think the process differs that much from what it did back in the day. You jam and come up with something and if it's not good enough, you work on it some more or ask a producer to chip in during different parts of the process. I think the somewhat longer gestations for albums and people they choose can cause some debate over that (which is fine).

But coming from my own experience in trying to write and record stuff, I've come to sympathize with the process a bit more. You are almost never completely happy with whatever final product you come up with. You re-record things and write new songs to make things fresh for you. You get opinions from other people. And for the most part, you write songs that you want to appeal to people in general.

And it's not really a process where you can just go with whatever the "original" stuff was or keep it as short as possible, especially when you do have a luxury of no deadlines on your hands. I couldn't just sit down and write and record 12 songs in two months and be completely happy with whatever it is. I'll listen to it later on and go "Hmmm, these are good, these are okay and could use improving, and these need to go." Then I'll write some more songs. That's how 99% of musicians work, probably.

In a nutshell, I think most of what they do in the process is still pretty normal. If we read articles by the acts that only show up on our Spotify Discover Weekly playlists or the ones with only 1000 views for their music video on YouTube, there'd be similarities there too. We just don't take the time to read their articles and get some sense of the background (and heck, maybe they're not even big enough to get interviewed in the first place). Plus, if I tried to determine the intentions of every single song ever written, I'd probably lose my mind in the process. There's millions of little things that go into every writing session, or mixing and recording things, and so forth.

In the end, we can try to determine intentions in all the interviews done by a worldwide popular band that we want. But if they really wanted a pop Top 40 relevance, we would have heard the drum machines and hip hop beats on first singles by now. They're a guitar-bass-drums band and always have been. Not an ambient synth collective or whatever one or two songs they've done over the years might say. I'm not accusing anyone of that, but when the karaoke or by the numbers arguments come up, I tend to think that's from most people that really don't play instruments at all (respectfully).

That's not to say we can't have opinions on things either. I know some here weren't crazy about Tedder being a producer, and I even agreed somewhat as his go-to seems to be just working on songs that are E-B-C#m-A in different keys and orders. But yet again, that's also something U2 has done plenty over the years, so maybe it wasn't as far-fetched as it sounded? And what do you know, I ended up liking a few of the things he worked on. Such as it would be for any producer they could choose nowadays.

Overall, I don't think all these older artists had some sort of creative dropoff after 1999, while all the songs before that are somehow about rebuke for the most part. I could overanalyze most things they do or criticize them for how "different" things or people are in their lives now that weren't back then. But yet again, how many of us are the same people we were 25 years ago? How many of us would have our job choices or creative pursuits looked at with a magnifying glass by thousands of people and look somewhat contradictory? Or someone seeing things different for the sole fact that they don't like one result? A lot of us haven't had a camera in our face or a tape recorder recording our every thought over the years either.

Of course, people do talk about other people's lives all the time too. And I think debating what's great and what's not for pop culture stuff is fine too. But in terms of intentions or the process of things for something like writing music, I just can't get too worked up about it these days. And in the Internet age, I can't really lose much sleep thinking how things would be different if this or that happened. It happened! Just like when we're in the right place at the right time for that perfect job offer... or wrecking a car in an accident. We just do the best we can at the time and live with the results. My life is big enough for considerations like that as it is, so I can't really get too mad over the creative decisions that musicians/filmmakers/writers do on their own. I'll take it in, like what I do and dislike what I don't, then move on with things.

Such as it is with this band. At the end of the day, I either like the new songs or I don't. And like other songs, my opinions might shift a bit over time too. After 10+ albums, even if I come out liking most of an album (SOI) or just a few songs really (SOE), either one is really better than the alternative of nothing. I'm glad they're still recording and hopefully they'll continue that for the foreseeable future.
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Old 12-31-2018, 09:13 PM   #43
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After one year the album didn' t grow for me. I've always been a fan of the darker u2 sound. This album isn't that at all. Love is all.... and 13 are for me the best tunes on the album. Blackout is allright. But the Showman and Love is bigger are among the worst songs they"ve made in years to me. Bring on SOA.
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Old 01-02-2019, 04:04 AM   #44
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What are we discussing again? Can’t be SOI.

We were discussing RBW- which does have, to my ears, some outstanding guitar work by Edge. Seeing how that track appears on SOI- the album was referenced.

For what it's worth, I think other examples are Reach Me Now, Cedarwood and Sleep Like a Baby.

SOI isn't AB, War, UF or insert your favorite Edge album here, but he contributes plenty there.
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Old 01-02-2019, 06:25 AM   #45
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One year out, I think I've listened to the album about five or six times.

I have never been less interested in a U2 album.
Yeah, and I agree with most of what LM had written (except that I dislike Love is Bigger much more).
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Old 01-02-2019, 09:59 AM   #46
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I’m still on the fence about “ you’re the best thing that ever happened a boy” line because that’s not a poor lyric, it’s just poor grammar...he literally just removed a word to try and make it fit....FFS that was an asshat decision.
Funny thing, when I was in Dublin last November and reading some newspapers that sentence structure was used a couple of times. So for the Irish it is correct grammar.
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Old 01-02-2019, 10:24 AM   #47
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(except that I dislike Love is Bigger much more).
I'm glad its not only me.
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Old 01-02-2019, 10:48 AM   #48
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Funny thing, when I was in Dublin last November and reading some newspapers that sentence structure was used a couple of times. So for the Irish it is correct grammar.
Yeah, it's an incredibly goofy-sounding line for outsiders, but I can tell that it's serving as a kind of inside joke in the same manner as certain lines in Landlady. Still doesn't make me like it, but it's not as inexplicable as it sounds.
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Old 01-02-2019, 11:14 AM   #49
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Am I the only one that likes both SOI and SOE? I’d rank them both somewhere in the middle of the pack of U2’s albums, which I think says a lot. Obviously it doesn’t touch their best material, but I really like the albums and am glad U2 are still making music.

My wish for the next album is for them to go a little darker, and stop trying to make “joyful” music.


You’re not. I am a huge fan of both albums.
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Old 01-02-2019, 11:35 AM   #50
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Yeah, it's an incredibly goofy-sounding line for outsiders, but I can tell that it's serving as a kind of inside joke in the same manner as certain lines in Landlady. Still doesn't make me like it, but it's not as inexplicable as it sounds.
It baffles me that people can't let this one go over a year after we've had an explanation for it. There are other lyrical crimes on the album more deserving of scorn.
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Old 01-02-2019, 12:01 PM   #51
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Excellent post, all of it! Even though I don't agree with your take on SOE, I appreciate the analysis and understand where you are coming from. I personally think SOE fits together much better than HTDAAB. Though HTDAAB gets a pass on that from me because there are so many strong songs on it- to include a mega hit and a decent sized hit.
Thanks U2387

I really didn’t want to sound like a hater on SOE because I do like the songs, I just don’t feel the album gels the way other great U2 albums have, so I find myself liking the SOE songs ala carte and divided by other U2 tracks rather than in one sitting.

I will say that as we know over time U2 songs have that ability to grow especially when we get live recordings, so I’m excited to get the fan club release of SOI/SOE live tracks more than anything to see how the dynamics change for me personally. I have SOE bootlegs but I like the production value of U22 & From the Ground Up. That’s one of my favorite parts of being a U2 fan is how the feelings and reactions to the same songs can change.
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Old 01-02-2019, 07:06 PM   #52
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What’s surprising is there have been no mentions about how SOE stacks up against Biffy Clyro’s best work.
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Old 01-02-2019, 07:57 PM   #53
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It's probably the worst album ever. But in all seriousness, it's a decent album. Pretty standard fare for post-2000s U2. There are songs I like and songs I don't like and I have revisited the ones I do like since its release.

I hope they reunite with Andy Barlow again at some point, his work was pretty great with them. Abandoning Tedder and Epworth and maybe Jacknife Lee would be ideal, but Tedder's work with the band wasn't nearly as awful as it could've been, i.e. that recent McCartney track, "Fuh You."

SOE has been polarizing to say the least, I've seen people call it the worst thing U2 has ever done or some of the freshest, most invigorated U2 has sounded in ages. Alhough maybe that has been said about previous albums too. Whatever one thinks though, I don't think I would say U2 is phoning it in, considering the amount of time it takes them to make an album. No doubt, this is a real labor of love for them (perhaps too much, i.e. tinkering, which has been discussed plenty here).

Love Is All We Have Left, Lights of Home, Red Flag Day, The Blackout, Landlady, Little Things, 13, Book of Your Heart and Summer of Love are all very solid songs. The tour was a treat for me as I missed I&E and as many pointed out I came to appreciate American Soul a bit more. Though I still like the verses a bit, it's just the chorus is lacking and they used it already. I know it's a callback to SOI, but it doesn't work much for me, although I do like the Glastonbury riff. I'd like to see more Edge next time around as he's a bit muted/reserved here.

I do wonder how this record will date and sound in 10 or so years time. Some of their post-2000s work seems a bit stale (it could be awful mixing and mastering), while the 90s stuff generally still sounds pretty incredible to my ears.

Nonetheless, i hope something new is in store for them with whatever they do next.
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Old 01-03-2019, 04:56 PM   #54
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While I think the album is better than it gets credit for, it still suffers from the same thing that's brought down each of the last three albums - a vision compromised in the pursuit of chart relevance.

They can still produce incredible highs, but they, pun intended, can't get out of their own way.

This could have been a great album if songs 3 through 5 we're a little more adult. Ya know... songs of experience.

I also hate the call backs to Songs of Innocence (even if they work better in many cases on this album than the original), and that the most interesting guitar riff was written by someone else (and the fact that it was written by someone else was sorta hidden).

Still glad it gave me Little Things, Love Is Bigger, Showman, Landlady, Blackout and Lights of Home, tho
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Old 01-03-2019, 06:34 PM   #55
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A year later and I still enjoy listening to SOE. I feel fortunate because I can sincerely say that in my time as a U2 fan, I've enjoyed where U2 has gone musically. Sure, there have been songs that I haven't liked as much as others, but I've never hated anything that U2 has done. Little Things is my favorite track from SOE.
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Old 06-14-2019, 04:11 PM   #56
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The album had so much potential but ultimately got sabotaged by a couple choices and fell short. Nothing has changed in the past year. American Soul & 13, i.e. the awkward throwbacks, and the hamfisted political verse in GOOYOW still suck.

1 Love Is All We Have Left
2 Lights Of Home (string version)
3 The Little Things
4 The Best Thing
5 Get Out Of Your Own Way
6 Red Flag Day
7 The Showman
8 Summer Of Love
9 Landlady
10 The Blackout
11 Love Is Bigger

Imagine a U2 record that doesn't hear the Edge until halfway through the second track! Mildly intriguing. RFD needed to be the lead single. Also, Bono needs to man up and drop the F-bomb in Showman.
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Old 06-14-2019, 07:27 PM   #57
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And you’re keeping Get Out because...?
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Old 06-14-2019, 08:22 PM   #58
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I really don't like Little Things in the #3 slot. I know U2 likes to put big ballads there sometimes but Little Things feels like a culmination rather than a cool down.
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Old 06-14-2019, 08:58 PM   #59
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Big ballads but not epic ones.

Definitely belongs near the end.

If you really want a ballad in that spot, why not Landlady?
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Old 06-14-2019, 09:00 PM   #60
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I'd go something like

1. The Blackout
2. Lights of Home
3. Red Flag Day
4. Summer of Love
5. The Showman (Little More Better)
6. Landlady
7. Book of Your Heart
8. The Little Things That Give You Away
9. Love Is All We Have Left
10. Love Is Bigger Than Anything in Its Way
11. 13 (There Is a Light)
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