There’s been a lot of talk about U2 ’s new album Songs of Surrender. First, I would like to say something. One of the lessons I’ve learned with my former boss at Atu2.com website, Matt McGee, was that we’re not U2’s PR. We’re free to criticize anything we want to, and it doesn’t make us less fans. I don’t know if it’s because I’m journalist, but I’m critical and I’m able to see things that I don’t like much in the band’s career — even being a hardcore fan for more than 30 years! I think it’s impossible to love all U2’s albums with the same intensity.
However, some people can’t really distinguish the difference of U2’s work. I know being a fan involves much emotion, and sometimes these feelings make us “blind”. So, everything they do is perfect. I can understand that. Besides, there are other kinds of people who keep connections with the staff, and got perks all the time. It’s convenient for them to never criticize the band in public. Obviously, they want to preserve their benefits, gifts, etc. That’s not my case. So, this is an honest view of U2’s recent album.
While I was thinking about this new record, I made myself some questions. Songs of Surrender is a consequence of the pandemic. Can you imagine The Edge, at home during lockdown, doing nothing for months and months? It’s clear he’s a kind of workaholic, and probably he would produce something during this time. Another point to be considered is that Bono wrote a memoir called “Surrender: 40 Songs, One Story”, and alongside with it he released an audiobook. And then, he announced shows to promote it. The U2 songs are a background for his story, and he needed to “re-imagine” them to sing and perform without the rest of the band.
I really don’t know why U2 have never released an unplugged album. I remember a lot of artists doing it; it was a big success on MTV. Maybe they thought they were too young for that in the 90’s. Although Songs of Surrender is not completely acoustic, now being a mature band they felt it was the right time to revisit these songs with more intimacy. With age, comes reflection. And our priorities change. We start worrying with what is more essential, so less is more.
Negative: The album is basically only Bono and Edge. I miss Adam and Larry. That’s it. I know it’s good when artists work separately, in different projects, and I support it because I believe they develop their skills, got more inspiration. But it bothers me to see 50% of the band under the name of U2. You may say it’s a drama, but the Disney Plus documentary is called “Bono & The Edge: A Sort Of Homecoming”. It’s not U2. Even so, I miss the band’s other half there too. Anyway, it’s hard for me to see this division of the band. This is expressed even in the cover, which Bono’s photo is the only one from a different era of the other three members. Why? It doesn’t match. I can’t understand the reason for that.
Positive: It’s a new project! The songs are old, but they’re still working. I don’t know what I would do if I was millionaire, but after so many years on the road I believe the members of U2 could be spending the rest of their days in the beach in the South of France or enjoying New York’s lifestyle. They have the right to be retired after 50 years in the band. But they are not! And as a fan, I’m happy with that.
I listened to the album and I like it! I think I was a little bit scared when I heard the first song that was released. Maybe I didn’t know exactly what to expect. Of course, not all songs work for me; I prefer the originals. But just like Edge said in a interview this is not a competition. There are several new arrangements that sound very interesting. Sometimes it seems Bono is whispering in my ears or Edge is giving me advices. Despite of the huge distance between Brazil and Ireland, I feel they’re closer to me. The depth of some songs calms me down, while others make me reflect, to think about feelings. Like I said before, anything U2 do now is welcome. If I was asked if they should do an album like this, I would probably say no. Maybe it was not really necessary, but with time I guess we’ll all be grateful for another U2 album.
By Fernanda Bottini
Communication: Journalism / PR
Massive U2 fans who writes about the Irish group for about 20 years