Wednesday, September 20th, 2017

U2 – You’re the Best Thing About Me

BLIND ITEM: Which editor is constantly terrified when out in public using the Music app because she is too lazy to delete the U2 album from her phone?


Alfred Soto: After several years of lumbering failures, U2 return to the simplicity of a decent riff and a terrific Adam Clayton performance on bass, and I can sense the band’s relief. Overcoming that relief is Bono, who’s too old to be promising the “you” that he’s the kind of trouble “you’ll” enjoy and too rich unacquainted with simpler pleasures these days. Shooting off his mouth is indeed the greatest thing about him — here he’s hewing close to ad man copy.

Kat Stevens: I only stream music these days, so I have managed to get away without opening iTunes since The Incident. What horrors could lurk within? I shall never find out. All that, I can leave behind — especially if it’s anything like this patchwork of half-finished snippets (the instrumental near the end is just about passable). I doubt any of them were in the same room at the time of writing, let alone playing. 

Tim de Reuse: There’s an emotional core beyond the vague wonder-bread that fills up most of the lyrics, something about worrying that you’re going to break a good thing or even just being tempted to break it yourself, just to exercise some control over the situation. The skeleton of a compelling, introspective narrative is identifiable if you’re willing to go through the archaeology and pick each verse apart, but it’s just not fully-formed. It doesn’t help that Bono’s singing his heart out through a monstrous EQ job that cuts the low end of his voice entirely and leaves unpleasant straining. 

Joshua Copperman: To paraphase a burn I heard of Songs of Innocence: “what, was this recorded with an iPhone too?” The sound is not improved on the album’s sequel, with tinny hi-hats and Bono too far back in the mix, when he’s Bono! There are some interesting details and ideas (shout out to Davide Rosse being awesome as usual), and I actually love the bridge, but nothing coheres. The lyrics don’t help; “The best thing that ever happened a boy” sounds like Bono was singing the chorus then thought oh shit I haven’t referenced myself yet what am I gonna do I guess I’ll use the first album name BOY! Even “oh boy” would work, and it might even be that, but I can’t tell when those hi-hats and those bizarre sound effects get in the way.

Edward Okulicz: At various points the verses threaten to turn into “Even Better Than The Real Thing,” but that was always the least of their singles of that period, if better than their recent output. The scratchy riff aspires to a level of rawness they haven’t had since the ’80s, and would be good, but there’s raw, there’s polished, and there’s polished pretending to be raw, and earnest old U2 don’t fake, more’s the pity. The verses are good, but the chorus drops an awkward rhyming triplet over a strained, strained attempt to write an anthem without intensity.

Iain Mew: This sounds like every Manic Street Preachers album of the 2000s at once, which is the most I’ve liked U2 since longer ago than that.

Maxwell Cavaseno: I’m glad to see that Bono’s been reading Meet Me In The Bathroom so aggressively that he decided to make the boys sound like a band writing songs in that style, while the U2 of All That You Can’t Leave Behind taunts them from passing cabs. It’s a deceptive experience, because it acknowledges the sense of age and the relentless desire to keep up as U2. Will they always be in touch? No, and the fact that the band who made Zooropa and Pop didn’t feel emboldened enough to mess around in the age of track-influenced rock, but that so many of their children did, is striking.

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3 Responses to “U2 – You’re the Best Thing About Me”

  1. How y’all gonna leave me out here to sound like the most enthusiastic person for a U2 fan smh…

  2. I’ve just realised how dated an assumption ‘songwriting in the same room’ is now – my closer is meaningless. I guess I shouldn’t assume U2 should be dinosaurs in *every* aspect.

  3. I think it’s a fair criticism here that they sound so disconnected from one another, structurally and performance-wise. There’s a difference between applying it to U2 and applying it to other acts

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