January 20, 2021

U2 – Songs of Experience – Interscope

By Kristi Kates | Jan. 13, 2018

With every album U2 releases, old fans bemoan the fact that its work no longer sounds like its eager underground-bar breakouts of the ’80s, and newer fans discuss how all of the band’s new songs sound too much the same. This set (pictured) should quiet both issues, since it adroitly combines both the arena-ready energy of their early success with the more moderately produced singles of the band’s later years. Big singles like “Love is All We Have Left,” “Blackout,” and “Red Flag Day” bring back the band’s drama while retaining the polish of experience. ***

Wolf Parade – Cry Cry Cry – Sub Pop
The chaos that makes up the tunes of Wolf Parade can be a little overwhelming for the first-time listener, but once you give the set several listens, what initially seems like disorder gradually coalesces into complexity. The reason for the mess, so to speak, is that the band gleefully crams a remarkable amount of ingredients into each song, from the weird hybrid of Euro power-pop and rootsy Americana that make up “You’re Dreaming” to the synthy, arena-friendly rock hybrid of “Am I An Alien Here” and the idiosyncratic “Artificial Life.” ***

Motion City Soundtrack – Even If It Kills Me – Epitaph
Hitting its 10th anniversary (already?) MCS’ definitive 2008 collection has been expanded (complete with some pastel hipster album art), and includes its original first disc of catchphrase singles (“This is for Real,” “The Conversation”) and a plethora of interesting extras and intriguing alternate takes like acoustic versions of “Broken Heart” and “Point of Extinction,” plus several live demos that capture the band’s impressive ability to emote in a live setting. ***

Collective Soul – Live – Suretone
Sometimes a band becomes such a rock-radio fixture, you forget how many hits it actually has. The burden of having become audio wallpaper applies in spades to Collective Soul; tunes like “Shine,” “The World I Know,” “Run,” and “Precious Declaration” are practically elevator music at this point. So while it’s good to see that the band can still pull out the energy during a live performance, it could seriously use a few fresh new songs in its now-vintage repertoire. **




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