U2 – Songs of Experience: You and I are Rock & Roll! (This U2 album, not so much.)

Artist: U2
Album: Songs of Experience
Year: 2017
Grade: B-

In Brief: While the message on several songs is more vital and relevant than anything U2’s done in years, and the callbacks to tracks on Songs of Innocence are much appreciated, the music itself feels tired and restrained, even sometimes on the tracks that are supposed to have a darker mood or a heavier crunch. For a band with the enduring ambition to keep reinventing itself four decades into its career, U2 still hasn’t managed to shake the overly clinical production and instrumentation that plagues a lot of their 21st century output. I’m always thrilled to have something new from these guys, but this one feels more like work and less like joy each time I try to process it, and that’s coming from someone with a high tolerance for U2 trying to subvert the sound of classic U2.

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Lisa Hannigan – At Swim: My Place of Clear Water

2016_lisahannigan_atswimArtist: Lisa Hannigan
Album: At Swim
Year: 2016
Grade: B

In Brief: A mellow, soothing, and at times hauntingly beautiful collection of songs. Lisa’s hushed indie folk approach is subtle enough, and her lyrics are abstract enough, that her songs might not impress you right away, but they set the perfect mood for a rainy day spent curled up with a book or a late night de-stressing session.

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U2 – Songs of Innocence: Embrace your youth. (Wait, Larry, I didn’t mean that literally!)

2014_U2_SongsofInnocenceArtist: U2
Album: Songs of Innocence
Year: 2014
Grade: B

In Brief: A lyrical walk down memory lane doesn’t mean a wholesale return to U2’s old sound or lyrical style, but there’s a good mix of classic U2 and oddball experiments here, and even if not everything works, it might be their most consistent record since the 90s.

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