Wednesday, February 05, 2014

U2, "Invisible"

After a few days of reflection and listening to the song about a kajillion times, my thoughts on U2's new single, "Invisible."

* The opening guitar riff is a new sound for U2.  Didn't even know it was a guitar riff, in fact.  God bless you, Edge's effects pedals!  (Okay, upon further review, it might actually be a keyboard effect, given that in the outro, Edge's usual guitar is playing behind it.  Big part for U2's longtime behind-the-scenes keyboard guy Terry Lawless!)

* Bono's voice sounds fantastic.

* Opening melody sounds somewhat like Pearl Jam's "Future Days," the second-best song off of PJ's latest record.

* The lyrics of the chorus sound vaguely Katy Perry-ish in their high school yearbook optimism, I won't lie, but it stills taps into a universal sentiment.  I've heard the song described as being about someone leaving their hometown, about the plight of people in Africa (I feel this one's a bit lazy, as if music critics just presume Bono is always writing about Africa), or simply it's about 50-something rock stars telling the music world they're still relevant.  Ah, multiple interpretations!

* It doesn't kick into the so-called usual U2 sound until the bridge, which is interesting.  The obvious comparison is to "Beautiful Day," which doesn't count like a U2 song until it hits the chorus.  Also, in the big-picture sense, BD was U2's semi-comeback song, and "Invisible" could similarly be U2's bid to break back into the public consciousness. 

* It's here that I point out that "Invisible" isn't *really* U2's big comeback single, it's just the one they chose to feature for this special Super Bowl/Bank Of America/(RED) tie-in.  Their new album might not actually be out until June, so I'd guess that the proper lead single will be out in a couple of months.  Let's also take a moment to note how ridiculous it is that U2's album is AGAIN delayed, since almost all recent reports had it coming out in the spring.  If nothing else, at least, "Invisible" and the Oscar-nominated "Ordinary Love" at least whet my appetite for new U2 music while I wait for this album to finally see the light of day. 

* The "There is no end…" lyrics are interesting given that the song doesn't really have a big ending, it just kind of stops.  If I was being ungenerous, I'd say the song peters out, which is probably another reason why it isn't THE big single the band has planned from this disc.  Given how "Get On Your Boots" basically torpedoed No Line On The Horizon from the outset, I'm not surprised that U2 is taking a more measured approach to choosing their lead single.  Or, perhaps, the staggered song releases are a way of taking the pressure away from having just one BIG single to introduce the record to the public.

* Anyway, the song's ending just makes me feel that, when "Invisible" is played in concert, it's a natural fit to lead into some other U2 classic.  For instance, Edge's jamming at the end could be suddenly sped up into the riff from "I Will Follow," and the crowd would go nuts.  Or, it could go before "Beautiful Day" for thematic purposes.  Or, it would lead into some new song just perfectly and create another iconic U2 live moment.

* Overall, I like it.  The tune fits with what I was hoping from the band's collaboration with Danger Mouse --- it still sounds like U2, but in a modern context.  It's not hard to imagine this exact same song having a few electronic bells and whistles added to it, Bono subbed out for Cee-Lo Green, and boom, you have a new Gnarls Barkley track.  "Invisible" just makes me all the more eager for this new album, so GOOD LORD JUST RELEASE THE THING ALREADY.


Mark Eidson said...

Just listening for the first time and you're spot on with your description. I'm a massive U2 fan and I get nervous when they release new stuff in case it's a let down. So far we've had Ordinary Love and Invisible and the future looks bright. Like all U2 songs, the more you listen the more they grow, and so listening for the first time to this song, I can see myself humming it for weeks to come.

Valleluja said...

interesting lyrics to Invisible "there is no them" considering U2's roadie put a plug in my house that resembled a "bug" and when I played music for U2's roadie, before I played, he said, "don't practice it here, don't let "them" know what you've got." So, if, the "it's just you and me or us, then the you and me is "them" (U2) and the "them" is "us", are you hearing me U2?