U2 have been working on their 13th studio album, which could see its release by the end of the year, according to bassist Adam Clayton. Though the band threatened that their 2009 collection of songs, No Line on the Horizon, could be their last, it seems Bono and company haven’t been able to leave their music behind. The group has enlisted Danger Mouse for producing duties, which marks a departure for the band, who once again worked with longtime collaborators Daniel Lanois and Brian Eno on the last record. It’s not like Danger Mouse, best known for his work with Gnarls Barkley, has never worked with a rock band or anything – he’s co-written and produced with The Black Keys on their last three albums, Attack & Release, Brothers and El Camino. So what direction will the biggest band in the world go for their next effort? Lanois recently suggested that their new sound echoes their career-changing Achtung Baby, which celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2011. Will they delve into their past to forge into the future? Here are five directions the new U2 album could be going…
The Demon Days Phase
Danger Mouse was part of Damon Albarn’s transition from Blur frontman to Gorillaz mastermind, producing their 2005 album, Demon Days. The record outperformed their 2001 self-titled debut and earned them over 6 million copies sold around the world. Gorillaz saw Albarn taking on an entirely new animated character as well as an alternative hip-hop sound that expanded his musical chops. And U2 are no strangers to developing alter egos. During their Zoo TV Tour spanning from 1992 through 1993, Bono inhabited the role of “MacPhisto,” a sunglasses-clad devil demon. Derived from the musical The Black Rider, “MacPhisto” allowed Bono to explore a more brazen, sinister side. Danger Mouse just may encourage Bono to once again explore his varied personalities, a nice fit for the theatrical frontman. Will U2 end up as cartoons a la the Gorillaz? Who knows.
The Berlin Phase
When U2 finished up touring behind their 1989 record Rattle and Hum, the band announced to a packed stadium in their hometown of Dublin that they were going away for awhile to “dream it all up again.” It was a huge risk for a band at the height of their career to walk away and create something new. Heavily influenced by bluesy Americana for the previous decade, the Irish band returned to Europe — this time Berlin and Dublin — to record Achtung Baby. And when itarrived in 1991, it was clear that the guitar strumming, rootsy U2 was as good as dead. The dark, dance-fused, futuristic electronic sound was a complete departure from their previous six albums and revealed a much more complex side to the group. On that collection of 13 songs lived “One,” arguably their most famous song to date, the radio favorite “Mysterious Ways,” and the buzzing “Even Better Than The Real Thing.” It seems taking time off to reconsider their sound has been a useful creative tool for the band and this current four-year hiatus from the studio could be exactly what they need to move in a more adventurous direction.