How would U2's music sound with the resonance given by the experience and maturity acquired throughout their long career. On the way to completing half a century of life, the Irish quartet wanted to answer this question with the reissue of 40 of their songs in Songs of surrender, or what is the same, their return from today to the music shelves after six years Standby. To do so, they have set aside electric guitars, embracing an acoustic sound that is more serene and intimate with which to reinterpret songs from their entire career, from blockbusters to secondary pieces that have never been played live.
"Most of our work was written and recorded when we were a group of young people," The Edge reasoned in a letter sent to fans in January, when they announced this new project that offers about three hours of music divided into four blocks, each identified with the name of one of the band members, The Edge, Larry, Adam and Bono.
Reimagining the themes, "we thought an intimate approach would be fun, which we could consider the new punk rock", recently explained the veteran guitarist, who like the rest of the band is over 60 years old. He has been the main promoter of Songs of surrender, taking advantage of the pandemic months to record a good part of the work, although this time leaving aside the characteristic electric guitar brand of the house to approach keyboards and acoustic guitar.
It is not a compilation, nor a list of the band's favorites. The project started as an experiment and became "an obsession" when they realized they had gone from covering to reinterpreting many of U2's early songs. This is the case in songs like Vertigo, where the cello replaces the guitar, or in Desire, dominated by Bono's falsetto voice. In Where the streets have no name it is the keyboards who take control, replacing the guitars, while in Two hearts beat as one it is The Edge who sings, as he does in three other songs on the compilation. An entire delicatessen that will not leave fans of the Irish quartet indifferent. Alongside these songs we can find forgotten pieces, never played live, to which the group wanted to give a second chance, such as Dirty day, by Zooropa, or If god will send his angels, by Pop.
If in 2014 they published Songs of Innocence and in 2017 Songs of Experience, this new album can be considered the continuation of the musical review of the life of U2. This time the album inherits the name of Surrender, the autobiographical book published last year by Bono divided into 40 chapters titled with the names of 40 songs by the group. The musical work does not respect, however, the themes of the book, choosing its own route, a reflection of the liberties that the group has taken with its themes, even modifying the lyrics of some of them, either notably as in The Miracle of Joey Ramone, or more subtle, like the change of a single verse in Pride (In the name of love). Nor is the iconic Sunday Bloody Sunday spared from these changes, in any case negligible when compared to the acoustic transformations of the songs.
The titles chosen in Songs of surrender cover almost the entire history of the band, from the songs from the album Boy, published in 1980, to Songs of experience, from 2017, although it is Songs of Innocence, with five songs, the most represented album, while others like the iconic October have been left out of the compilation. In any case, "it's more of an addition than a replacement of songs," explains The Edge, moving away from preferences between the original songs and the new ones. "Both are valid." For those who flee from "reinterpretations" and prefer new material, they should know that the band is already working on their next album. At the moment they are preparing to perform in Las Vegas without Larry Mullen, who is out for an operation. His place will be occupied by Bram van den Berg, from the Dutch formation Krezip.