Experience of all kinds matters — that’s the implicit message of U2’s “You’re the Best Thing About Me,” the proudly lovesick new song that the veteran Irish band released Wednesday morning as the lead single from its next album, “Songs of Experience.”
The follow-up to 2014’s “Songs of Innocence” (which took clear inspiration from the group’s beginnings), “Songs of Experience” was supposed to come out shortly after the earlier album.
But then 2016 gave the world “Brexit” and President Donald Trump; U2 felt it had no choice but to overhaul its work to better reflect such disruptive forces.
“Statues fall/Democracy is flat on its back,” Bono sings in one of the band’s new songs, “The Blackout,” which appeared last month in a live concert video posted on Facebook. (“Songs of Experience” is due Dec. 1, according to the New York Times, and will feature production by Ryan Tedder, Jacknife Lee and Steve Lillywhite.)
Yet U2’s new single looks past current events to consider a more elemental experience: the irresistible torture of romance.
“You’re the best thing about me,” Bono sings over the Edge’s signature electric-guitar arpeggios, “The best things are easy to destroy.” Later he wonders, “Why am I walking away?”
More polished and immediately catchy than the comparatively rough-edged “Blackout,” “Best Thing” (which eventually takes on sweeping, disco-style strings) feels aligned with late-period U2 singles like “Beautiful Day” and “City of Blinding Lights” — tunes about human-sized emotions that the band scales up to stadium dimensions.
It’s an unexpectedly personal statement at a moment when the world seems to be burning. But it also reminds you that the world was built by people.