So what do you do if you’re almost 40 years into your career if you still want thousands of kids whoa-oh-oh-ing along at every gig? You hire a producer with such a bulletproof reputation for being hip that you’re bound to crack that fickle 20-something market, right? That’s exactly what Dublin’s finest U2 have done in teaming up with Brian “Danger Mouse” Burton (Gnarls Barkley, Broken Bells, Sparklehorse) for their – get this – 66th single release Invisible (RED) – the “red” being the trademark of Bono’s (Product) RED charity initiative.
Opening with some synth bass and sequenced drums, it sounds like something Trent Reznor might test equipment with until some thunderously filthy drum fills denote that this is DEFINITELY a Danger Mouse production. Further confirmation of the credits list (which reads like roll-call for a “Pseudonyms Anonymous” meeting) is evident when The Edge’s washy guitar enters before that iconic cigarillo/whisky tainted croon of one Paul David Hewson chimes in with “It’s like the room just cleared of smoke/I didn’t even want the heart you broke”.
Over the course of the ensuing 4 minutes several things are made abundantly clear. Firstly, U2 have always had a definite sonic aesthetic about them and despite having such a finely tuned, shape shifting set of ears at the helm in Burton, there’s precious little he can do to make them sound any different.
Secondly – lyrically, Bono tends to rely on the kind of overblown rock ‘n’ roll rhetoric wherein the singer can say everything and nothing in a single breath. For example “I finally found my real name/I won’t be me when you see me again”. Deep right?
Lastly, despite provoking a pretty divisive reaction amongst music fans, U2 undoubtedly mean well with their humanitarian efforts and the more people they can get on board to make the world a better place, the better. But they don’t REALLY need a crowd chanting the chorus at the end to show this so ostentatiously, do they?
If you’re a longtime fan of U2 and what they do, then you’ll love this. If on the other hand you’re an observer of modern music and want to see how one of the coolest men on the planet – Danger Mouse – can shape the sound of arguably one of the un-coolest bands on the planet, like many you’ll be holding your breath for the album later in the year.