Review: U2 reworks past in thrilling ‘Songs of Surrender’

Greg Stevens

“Songs of Surrender,” U2 (Universal)

Envision walking into your dwelling room and all your stuff is there, but it really is different. The couch has moved, the bookcase is leaning on a various wall and the framed photos have swapped spots. That is the experience you get listening to U2’s new album.

“Songs of Surrender” is a “reimagining” of 40 tracks from the Irish quartet’s deep catalogue, cleverly presented from “One” to “40.” Assume of it as a thrilling property makeover.

“I want to tear down the walls that maintain me inside of,” Bono sings in the new “Where the Streets Have No Name” — lyrics that flawlessly in good shape this sonic experiment. This edition of the song is practically unrecognizable from the a single the band designed famed in 1987.

That’s the issue of this exercise led by Bono and The Edge. “Once we surrendered our reverence for the initial variation, just about every music began to open up up to a new reliable voice of this time,” The Edge writes in the liner notes.

There are triumphs and a couple fumbles, but you will find a increasing realization that the architecture of these tracks is powerful without a doubt, even with some new lyrics. The new “Vertigo” has Middle Japanese instrumentations, though an acoustic guitar-driven “Sunday Bloody Sunday” appears additional like some thing from a coffeehouse open up-mic night than a strident arena-ready desire. But they are each nonetheless attractive.

Some could possibly even be improvements. One particular of the band’s earliest hits — “11 O’Clock Tick Tock” — is smoother, slower and cleaner than the first. And would you consider the new “The Wonder (Of Joey Ramone)” may well be superior than the a single on “Songs of Innocence”?

Numerous reworkings are reasonably straight-forward, like “Cedarwood Highway,” “Peace on Earth,” “Bad” and “I Will Abide by.” Most have a stripped-down feel, which gives Bono’s voice minor shelter amid moody keyboards or choppy acoustic guitar. “Every Breaking Wave” is cinematic, like one thing that should really run over the end credits when an anguished drama has faded to black.

“I However Haven’t Observed What I’m On the lookout For,” will get a cowboy vibe and unanticipated honky-tonky electric power. “Desire” has Bono substantial in his falsetto from a strummy dulcimer and the result is hypnotic.

“Get Out of Your Have Way” is remade as a Mumford & Sons tune, in a very good way, and the new “Stuck in a Moment” is a folkish prayer, the composition keeping. The new “One” is a small marred by a choir effect, but it is such a attractive song that it could be remade as a punk tune and it would even now sparkle.

Listening to the new “Sometime You Can’t Make It On Your Own” is like running into an ex who is hardly recognizable. The reworked “With or Devoid of You” has an air of antiseptic menace.

One impact of the album is to put Bono’s lyrics less than a spotlight, building his words and phrases and imagery extra pronounced. The new “Ordinary Love” emerges like a tone poem, the new “Invisible” reveals deeper discomfort than initially sang.

Some will not operate, as when the grimness of “Red Hill Mining Town” is undercut by horns, successfully remaking it into a defanged kid’s tune. The new “Beautiful Day” is not an improvement more than the primary it has been designed lounge-y and meandering, in spite of some nifty new lyrics.

In a new “Pride (In the Title of Love),” Bono’s voice has been harnessed and tamed, losing the original’s stridency and anger. And the new “40” — with Bono appropriately arguing “I will sing a new song” — has been made limp and passive.

If you might be not a U2 admirer, this assortment will not encourage you to embrace them. If you are a mega-admirer, you will marvel at their mutability. And if you are a casual admirer, you will have to admire a band eager to get in its personal way.


Mark Kennedy is at


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