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Jayden Long
Jayden Long

U2 - Songs Of Surrender (2023)



Six years after Songs of Experience -- and nearly a decade after Songs of Innocence -- U2 delivered Songs of Surrender, an album whose title suggests it's either part of a trilogy or the album where the band decided to finally succumb to the forces attempting to pull it down to the ground. Given that a collection of remakes inherently feels like a retreat, the latter interpretation seems more likely. Named partially after Bono's 2022 memoir, Surrender: 40 Songs, One Story, the project -- available in a couple of iterations, including a four-LP set where each volume is named after a bandmember -- finds each member of the group cherry-picking ten of their favorite U2 songs, and then the Edge spearheading "intimate" rearrangements of them. Largely anchored by -- but by no means limited to -- acoustic guitars, Songs of Surrender is subdued, handsome, and tasteful, music made from the vantage point of reflection rather than risk. There's nothing on Songs of Surrender that sounds precisely like the originally released versions -- studio effects and electric guitars have been stripped away, the rhythms don't thunder -- yet nothing here quite surprises. Bono's lyrical alterations are subtle, even when they amount to more than the tweaking of a stray line; giving "Stories for Boys" a mature makeover or rewriting "Walk On" for Ukraine doesn't quite change the emotional thrust of the songs. Apart from Adam Clayton's album, which contains inversions of such loud rockers as "Vertigo" and "The Fly," U2 doesn't stretch the boundaries of what acoustic-based rock would be: it's all ballads and anthems, songs that can be sustained by drumming. Pros that they are, U2 deliver smooth, polished performances that are handsome and, yes, intimate but not especially compelling. It's stylish background music that sounds a bit like it was designed to be heard in chain coffeehouses during the late 2000s.




U2 - Songs Of Surrender (2023)



The new album revisits 40 songs from U2's back catalogue, and the band performs them in entirely new ways. In this session, U2 guitarist The Edge, who produced and curated the album, talks about the significance of these songs and why the band wanted to revisit, re-record and, in some cases, re-write songs from their past. He'll also share early U2 stories and talk about how playing old songs in fresh ways helped prepare them to start writing their next album of all new songs.


Songs of Surrender breaks a quiet period for the band; their last album was 2017's Songs of Experience. And like that previous record and its predecessor, 2014's equally weighty Songs of Innocence, Songs of Surrender is viewed from the perspective of a band that presents its past as a way of understanding its present and future. But here they go all in on that past, re-recording 40 songs from their illustrious catalog to better understand the changes and growth that have occurred along the way.


That depends on your feelings regarding re-recorded songs that were pretty much perfect the first time. The updated versions have the passage of time on their side, so some gain worn-in qualities not heard in the originals. This proves once and for all that U2 were always old souls, no matter their ages. But it often strips the youthful vigor from songs like "Stories for Boys," "Sunday Bloody Sunday" and "I Will Follow," while also forcing even more gravitas on "Every Breaking Wave" and "If God Will Send His Angels."


The album could just as well be titled Songs of Reflection, given the stripped-back, mostly acoustic arrangements and performances of the songs. You're often waiting for deliverance that doesn't come on songs like "Bad," which hinged on the force of its final cathartic minute. Bono's staid delivery means that moment never arrives in this reworked version. But Songs of Surrender isn't about that sort of release; it's about contemplation of the years between then and now, between innocence and experience, and between boys and men. Four decades on, U2 is still redefining the parameters of their music.


"Music allows you to time travel," explained The Edge, "And we became curious to find out what it would be like to bring our early songs back with us to the present day and give them the benefit, or otherwise, of a 21st-century reimagining.


"What started out as an experiment quickly developed into a personal obsession as so many of our songs yielded to a new interpretation. Intimacy replaced post-punk urgency. New tempos, new keys, and in some cases new chords and new lyrics arrived. A great song, it turns out is kind of indestructible.


The Edge adds: "Hearing the songs interact, and finding the running orders for the four albums was really thrilling; finding the surprising segues, getting a chance to DJ. Once we had four distinct albums it was easy to see who would be the figurehead for each one."


Songs of Surrender takes its name from the speaking tour undertaken last year by frontman Bono, tied to his memoirs. While writing those, he - along with guitarist The Edge, bassist Adam Clayton and drummer Larry Mullen, Jr. - went back into the studio to rearrange, re-record and reinvent 40 songs spanning nearly all of the band's albums and then some. The results, from early teases, promise to be stripped back as well as, in some cases, involving lyrics "finished" by Bono. "A few songs...I've always felt were never quite written," he wrote in Surrender: 40 Songs, One Story. "They are now. (I think.)"


"We became curious to find out what it would be like to bring our early songs back with us to the present day and give them the benefit, or otherwise, of a 21st century reimagining," The Edge wrote in a statement. "What started out as an experiment quickly developed into a personal obsession as so many of our songs yielded to a new interpretation. Intimacy replaced post punk urgency. New tempos, new keys, and in some cases new chords and new lyrics arrived. A great song, it turns out is kind of indestructible."


The album has a length of 165 minutes, which makes the album almost 3 hours long. It is divided into four different sections, each having 10 songs in them. The songs were divided by the names of the band members: the first section was named The Edge, the second was named Larry, the third was named Adam, and the fourth was named Bono. 041b061a72


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