U2 revisit their back catalogue on Songs Of Surrender with uneven results
(Review by Alex Green)
U2 – SONGS OF SURRENDER
Songs Of Surrender sees U2 revisit 40 of their iconic songs, reworked and reimagined through a new recording of each track.
Produced and curated by The Edge during recording sessions over the last two years, most songs have been reworked with new arrangements, and in some cases, refreshed lyrics.
The Edge stated one of the main aims was “to find ways to bring intimacy into the songs”.
This more delicate approach sees acoustic guitar, piano and strings present on most of the tracks.
As a result, certain numbers lack the punch of the original.
Although well-arranged, the likes of Vertigo, The Miracle Of Joey Ramone and Beautiful Day suffer through this reduction of energy.
Other tracks, however, have benefitted.
A level of intrigue is added to Who’s Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses, and a more haunting feel is given to the stripped-back With Or Without You.
Elsewhere, Walk On is movingly reshaped with powerful new lyrics that reflect on the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.
At times, the rhythmic power of drummer Larry Mullen and bassist Adam Clayton is missed, but throughout the album, the maturing richness of Bono’s vocals proves compelling.
UNKNOWN MORTAL ORCHESTRA – V
When lockdown hit, Unknown Mortal Orchestra mastermind Ruban Nielson decamped from Portland to Palm Springs, a place that reminded him of his childhood spent between Hawaii and New Zealand.
He flew his brother and bandmate Kody to California and the pair began recording.
The result is V, a double album that is, like all UMO releases, steeped in memory.
But this time things are different.
A trip back to Hawaii after a relative fell ill prompted the pair to engage in Hawaiian Hapa-haole music and that has seeped into the sprawling record.
V also draws more explicitly on classic West Coast rock and deep soul, obscured by their trademark layer of hazy feedback.
This new sound palette feels uniquely personal among the UMO catalogue, from the sparkling riffs and uplifting sentiment of That Life to the frankly stunning jazzy interlude, The Widow.
By engaging with his family and rich heritage, Nielson has created something very special.
(Review by Alexander Hoggard)
M83 – FANTASY
There are dreamy synths aplenty as French electronic outfit M83 return with their ninth studio album.
Fantasy sees Anthony Gonzalez, leader of the project, abandon commerciality in favour of making music for himself.
He fuses guitar and synth to make otherworldly shoegaze, produced during long jamming sessions.
These sounds are not dissimilar to that of Tame Impala, with the more ambitious songs touching upon Aphex Twin. Setting the vocals against a silky backdrop also draws comparison to The 1975.
Kool Nuit is the standout, an almost eight-minute composition that offers strings and haunting vocals before building to create a feeling of impending doom.
Unfortunately, there is not enough variation between the rest of the tracks to keep the listener dialled in.
M83 demonstrate talent producing these complexly layered pieces, though they sound often sound more like soundtracks in need of their visual counterpart.
(Review by Mason Oldridge)
LANA DEL RABIES – STREGA BEATA
Welcome to an hour of highly uneasy listening courtesy of the fabulously named Lana Del Rabies.
Slabs of ominous synths, disembodied voices, the occasional scream, this is the soundtrack to unmade horror films or your deepest nightmares.
Strega Beata loosely translates as “blessed witch” and the track titles emphasise the none-more-goth ambience – A Plague, Mourning, Hallowed Is The Earth, Apocalypse Fatigue.
The music fuses electronica, industrial, darkwave and ambient elements, a blend of genres that results in a singular vision.
There is variation here – Master and Mother are both slower and stark, though no less intense – but the cumulative effect is of a journey into the heart of darkness.
This is the third Lana Del Rabies album from musician, producer and multimedia artist Sam An, who is based in Phoenix, Arizona,
She says: “There is a specific grief that comes from absorbing the brutality of what human beings are capable of towards others – but if that grief goes unprocessed it is doomed to manifest as its own brutality.”
So it is hardly surprising there is little relief here, but final track Forgive does hint at redemption, an ethereal drone built around the line “one day I will be free”.
(Review by Matthew George)