Review: Integrated U2 thrill with ‘Songs of Experience’

Pablo Gorondi
Associated Press

Like its 2014 predecessor, U2’s “Songs of Experience” is the product of a difficult and drawn-out recording process.

Much more so than “Songs of Innocence,” however, U2 has made an exciting, stage-ready album that doesn’t blush or blink in its use of the band’s signature sounds — The Edge’s chiming guitar, Adam Clayton’s trebly, adhesive bass, Larry Mullen Jr.’s sharp and responsive drums and Bono’s heart-on-his-vocal-cords singing.

“Songs of Experience” was supposed to be completed “soon enough” after “Songs of Innocence,” but things kept getting in its way.

From the automatic iTunes download fiasco of “Innocence,” Bono’s debilitating bicycle accident in New York three years ago and another, more recent, yet-to-be-described health scare, plus the changing political landscape and the wildly successful 30th anniversary tour of “The Joshua Tree,” which is barely over, sometimes the pause button was getting pressed and sometimes it was rewind or rip it up and start again.

While the last two albums — the other was 2009’s “No Line on the Horizon” — had some strong songs and sounds, there was a sense of erratic dispersion, of the whole being less than its components.

The new record is a thrilling listen because U2 sounds fully integrated again, a band with everyone on the same page and, just as importantly, in the same groove.

The result is the best U2 album since “All That You Can’t Leave Behind.”

‘Songs of Experience’

Interscope Records