CLOSE

At a MusiCares event in New York, U2 bassist Adam Clayton thanked his bandmates for their support during his treatment for alcohol abuse years ago. (June 27)
AP

It’s all in the title when it comes to U2’s new album, Songs of Experience.

The veteran rockers’ fourteenth studio album was originally planned to be the companion to 2014’s Songs of Innocence, a release that’s less famous for its actual music than for the band’s controversial deal with Apple, which dropped the album into iTunes users’ libraries around the world in a surprise release that felt intrusive.

Add the fact that Bono suffered injuries from a serious bike accident, and that the band decided to push back Experience’s release date to rethink their new music in response to Brexit and President Trump’s election, and the “experience” in the album’s title takes on a weightier meaning. Luckily for fans, the album’s hard-won inspirations have produced U2’s best album in years, with the band using their signature, sweeping rock anthems largely to assure listeners that, in a world of chaos, everything’s going to be okay.

There’s a palpable joy that runs through Songs of Experience, and even when Bono’s sermons are largely made up of platitudes, it’s exciting to hear a band famous for their rafters-swinging rock serving it up in its most direct form. Coming off this summer’s 30th anniversary tour for their seminal album The Joshua Tree, the band is clearly thinking about their legacy on Experience, doing away with the limp experimentations of their 2009 album No Line on the Horizon in favor of more immediate songwriting. As a result, the album features several tracks that belong in the upper echelon of U2’s later era, from the shamelessly-grandiose Love Is Bigger Than Anything In Its Way to Get Out of Your Own Way’s danceable chorus.

The army of collaborators behind Experience includes a parade of rock/pop producers, including Danger Mouse, Paul Epworth, OneRepublic’s Ryan Tedder and rock veteran Steve Lillywhite, alongside stars like Lady Gaga and Haim who contribute vocals. U2 appeared on Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN album earlier this year, and the rapper returns the favor on Experience, jumping on the end of Get Out of Your Own Way to deliver a spoken-word outro that bleeds into the beginning of the next song, American Soul. Yet, American Soul’s