Why is U2 so boring
At U2 the light goes out again
“The end is not coming, the end is here”, sings Bono: On “Songs of Experience”, the 13th album by the successful Irish band, the singer lets his platitudes run free.
The positives first: The cover of the new U2 album is touching, it makes you sigh and smile at the same time. It shows Eli Hewson, the son of U2 singer Bono (recte: Paul Hewson), and Sian Evans, the daughter of guitarist David Evans, known by the war, pardon: peace name The Edge.
He is 17, she is 20, they hold each other by the hand, look intrepid into the camera, as if they had just signed blood relationships and swore: The world can count on us, we ride into the dark to save us if necessary, the (white) flags in the hands, the good in the heart!
She was photographed by Anton Corbijn, who has accompanied her parents' band for decades - and has captured exactly this pathos again and again, in high-contrast, but grainy black and white. One of his iconic cover photos - for the compilation "The Best of 1980–1990" - shows a boy wearing the same helmet on his head as Sian Evans is now. The imagery is clear: innocent fighters for peace. This is an old motif from U2: The avowed Catholic Bono once called himself an “aggressive pacifist”; on the last U2 album, "Songs of Innocence" (2014), he looked back on himself with severe emotion: "I was young, not dumb, and we were pilgrims on our way."
Pay taxes? Love is everything!
What evils in the world has he not committed himself to on his pilgrimage since then? In addition to the mockery of his sermons, the accusation has come in recent years that Bono, who shows himself so socially, is quite inconsiderate in his own financial affairs, and avoids paying taxes wherever he can. He also appears in the recently unveiled Paradise Papers: He is said to hold a number of letterbox companies - and shares in a Lithuanian shopping center that has never paid taxes on its profits.
But let's leave the stupid money! That's not what matters, it's love. And Bono holds this up, as we know at least since “Pride (In the Name of Love”): “Love and love is all we have left”, he explains on “Songs of Experience” in the first number, accompanied by Keyboards that would be called pious if they weren't so bland. In the following song, "Lights of Home", Bono turns directly to Jesus to confide in him vague things: "I see the lights of home, free yourself to be yourself." In the penultimate song of the album, Bono explains that love is greater be as everything that stands in its way; in the last he says: "I know that darkness always gathers around the light."
It doesn't get any lighter. Bono has apparently given up trying to sort out the platitudes that come to mind. In between he shouts “You and I are Rock'n'Roll”, which he already shouted on “Songs of Innocence” (in “Volcano”), and one can attest to him again: That is a stupid presumption. Even more so, as you can hardly hear the guitar that has fueled his sermons for so long on this album. Only on "The Little Things that Give You Away" is The Edge allowed to turn on the flageolet engine sustainably, while Bono decides the downfall: "The end is not coming, the end is here."
Two numbers later the lights go out (once again): Bono diagnoses a "blackout" with sinful electro-disco rhythm, in which - you guessed it - the current US president appears as a "big mouth", as Bono is by no means called may. Bono also takes on "American Soul" in the song of the same name: "Let it be unity, let it be community for refugees like you and me" (another stupid presumption!), He sings unctuously after rapper Kendrick Lamar im Intro (as at the end of the previous piece) the Beatitudes varied: "Blessed are the filthy rich", it says, for example, "for you can only truly own what you give away."
We resist the temptation to interpret this as an invitation to Bono. “The personal and the political apocalypse came together,” he says of the creation of the new album. It is the best of U2 so far. The latter must be vigorously contradicted after listening carefully. These "Songs of Experience" are annoying and boring at the same time.
("Die Presse", print edition, December 1st, 2017)
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