After three years and two tours, U2 released their 14th studio album Songs of Experience on Dec. 1, 2017. The album is considered a sister album to 2014's Songs of Innocence and takes the band from reminiscing of their younger days to having a middle-aged state of mind. Experience, like many U2 albums, was put on hold following a political shift both in the UK and in the U.S. to reassess the album and what it means.
The theme of political distress can be heard throughout Experience while holding up to its title. Upon release, Songs of Experience debuted at No.1 on the Top 200 Albums chart, the band's eighth No. 1, and U2 became the first group to have a No. 1 album in each of the last four decades. AXS is taking a look at the 5 best songs from the album.
5. “Get Out of Your Own Way”
“Get Out of Your Own Way” became the second single from Experience and is a direct political jab. “The face of liberty’s starting to crack/ She had a plan until she got a smack in the mouth/ And it all went south like freedom/ The slaves are looking for someone to lead ‘em/ The master’s looking for someone to need him/ The promised land is there for those who need it most/ And Lincoln’s ghost said…,” Bono sings. Following the single release ten days later, U2 appeared on the 60th Annual Grammy Awards to help open the show and present the award for Album of the Year, and a pre-recorded live performance of the song took place in the Hudson River with the Statue of Liberty in the background. To add salt to the wound, Bono used a megaphone to end the performance shouting, “Blessed are the s***hole countries.”
4. “13 (There Is A Light)
While 2014’s Songs of Innocence saw the band looking back to their youth, Experience is just that. The final track on the album returns to the 2014 set reprising “Song for Someone” in a new way, proving that innocence can return. “And if the terrors of the night come creeping into your days/ And the world comes stealing children from your room/ Guard your innocence from hallucination/ And know that darkness always gathers around the light,” Bono begins the track subtly. “13 (There Is a Light)” radiates hope and inspiration to hold on to not only his wife but his purpose of music.
3. “You’re the Best Thing About Me”
Bono wrote “You’re the Best Thing About Me” as a letter to friends and family after having a scare where he feared he wouldn’t be around later. The lyrics came to Bono after a dream he experienced where he destroyed his relationship. The song is doubled sided - on one hand the relationship is the best thing about him, on the other, he’s walking away. “Best Thing” served as the lead single released in Sept. 2017 and was finished just one week before it kicked off. On the charts, “Best Thing” reached No. 16 on the Adult Top 40 chart and peaked at No. 5 on Hot Rock Songs.
2. “The Little Things That Give You Away”
“The Little Things That Give You Away” was a song U2 debuted during the Joshua Tree 2017 Tour. A tender highlight on Experience, “Little Things” is classic U2. The Edge uses his famous delays as a soft background layer until the track explodes into an opus of atmospheric runs that is reminiscent of their Grammy winning track “City of Blinding Lights.”
1. “The Blackout”
“The Blackout” is a standout track with its dark undertones and infectious beat as the beginning also sounds like 90’s U2. The song is awaiting the apocalypse metaphorically - “Statues fall, democracy is flat on its back, Jack/ We had it all, and what we had is not coming back, Zach/ A big mouth says the people, they don’t wanna be free for free/ The blackout, is this an extinction event we see.” The band debuted a video for the song as a performance ahead of the lead single’s release
Related: Top 5 songs from U2’s ‘Songs of Innocence’