Review: U2 :: Songs Of Surrender

Almost 20 years after their last truly successful, culture-defining studio album, HOW TO DISMANTLE AN ATOMIC BOMB, U2 are now processing their back catalog – as a tie-in product to Bono’s memoir; At least since the innocence lambs forced a gift on us with the iTunes release SONGS OF INNOCENCE in 2014, we have known their interest in synergies. On another parallel, as the extended version of their bombastic Super Bowl commercial clip shows, the Irish are beaming to the entertainment industry’s ultimate siding, to Las Vegas, to start there in the fall, less than four years after the end her nostalgic THE JOSHUA TREE tour to perform her 1991 album CAUTION BABY; without drummer Larry Mullen, Jr., however, who has to undergo surgery.


The common denominator is easy to identify: The band, which is always looking forward, looks back – it’s absolutely okay after 47 years together. Besides, they could make it a lot easier for themselves: They would have a hard time crafting an acceptable successor to THE BEST OF 1990 – 2000 with the material from the noughties (it’s completely impossible with the decade after as a starting point). But a mean U2 18 SINGLES VOL. 2 would easily be dumped on the market. But the claims of the former rock innovators are still too high for that. Nowadays you recycle, remake, reboot or rebrush. Or “re-imagined” – in the announcement campaign, the buzzword boldly paints over the middle word of the info line “The new album”.

The album tires quickly, and not just because of its epic playing time

And speaking of the choice of words: after two flops with SONGS OF in the title, it can be considered courageous to equip a third album with it (only two more songs records and they have caught up with Leonard Cohen) – AND tight eight tracks from these twin works on the 40-song tracklist (but not “Surrender”, btw.). Thanks to these largely unknown songs, SONGS OF SURRENDER – appropriately beginning with “One” and ending with “40” – doesn’t sound like it’s been heard umpteen times.

Nevertheless, the album tires quickly and not only because of its epic playing time: All pieces are spartanly instrumented and presented in a mid-tempo area in which dynamics are not much in demand. Bono’s vocal trademark, the urgency, also gives way to an age-related flatter performance. The experiment might have been successful as an unplugged concert in front of an audience, but The Edge’s sterile production, which uses a lot of reverberation, takes away a lot of the music’s intensity or even intimacy. “Surrender to the void” was the motto of the Beatles, “surrender to the void”. May this emptiness be a lesson to the Fab Four fans who are U2


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