There was never actually a release date set for the new U2 album—hell, we didn’t even know the name of it—so the label insists this is not a “delay.” But as Billboard reported exclusively yesterday, several sources are confirming that the album release and tour are being pushed to next year.
No official statement has been made thus far, but it’s hard to believe this was part of the plan. U2 has become a very public band once again in recent months. Their track “Ordinary Love” for the film Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom won a Golden Globe award and landed an Oscar nomination, with the band performing an acoustic version of the song on the Academy Awards broadcast just last weekend. They also released a new single “Invisible” during the Superbowl, raising millions for charity in the process, and were even the inaugural musical guests for Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show debut in mid-February. All these things, combined with various statements made by band mates to the press, pointed to an early summer release of the long-awaited new record. You just don’t get that public if you’re not thinking to do something.
But U2 is also known for wanting to make sure everything is just so on a release. It’s not uncommon for them to delay albums, or tours, until everything is just the way they want it—and even during this process, they’ve been careful not to commit. “We want it to come out this summer, but you don’t want to let anyone down,” frontman Bono told USA Today. He also told Zane Lowe in a radio interview, “Until it’s on the radio or online, it’s not real. With U2, our album isn’t finished until it’s in the stores.” And guitarist The Edge recently told Rolling Stone, “We’re not, as we say in Ireland, up our own arse. But we do not want to let go of anything if we are not 100 percent happy with it.”
In other words, all the while U2 has been doing this build-up, they’ve kept a back-door escape option, giving themselves permission to delay it if necessary. Apparently, that’s what they’ve done.
In releasing the news, Billboard quoted an unnamed source close to the project: “It seems to be taking longer for them to finish an album as they get older, but the great thing about U2 is that the whole of a record is always better than the sum of its parts. That magic that the band always seems to capture … they have yet to capture it.”
Amid this news is another interesting development: presumably in their attempt to “capture it,” U2 have invited producers Ryan Tedder and Paul Epworth for additional sessions in the studio, joining Danger Mouse, who remains the project’s primary producer.
And so, the waiting game continues. Of one thing we can be almost certain, however: when this record does finally come out…it should be worth the wait.