The Irish quartet, arguably rock's biggest band, announced Monday that All That You Can't Leave Behind, its much-awaited new album and the 12th in the group's two-decade history, will be released October 31 on Interscope Records.
U2 says the new CD will recapture the magic of the band's earlier works, while still charting new territory.
"I think we've made a very special record, and I know everybody that's spent a year in the studio feels like that, but there's a certain clarity to this music that I don't think we've heard for a while," frontman Bono said in a recent interview.
The always-morphing band could use some new clarity. After reinventing themselves with the masterful Actung Baby in 1991, the rockers have struggled to maintain commercial viability. With the exception of a greatest hits package (1998's The Best of 1980-1990), the band's recent albums--Zooropa in 1993 and especially 1997's fizzling Pop--have failed to generate much enthusiasm among rock critics and record buyers.
Recording industry analysts are looking forward to the new disc, and are predicting U2 could once again rule the charts.
"Their built-in audience will ensure a solid opening week" says Dave Adelson, executive editor of Hits magazine and E! News Daily's music guru. "However if Ricky Martin comes out with an album the same day, that in no way means a number one debut or even a top five. That's the irony in today's pop-driven youth market."
Adelson also notes the album's success will depend upon the kind of radio airplay it receives.
"It's not how you start, it's how you finish," adds Adelson. "If top 40 embraces a U2 single, there's a possibility it could be [the band's] biggest album ever."
All That You Can't Leave Behind features 11 new tracks all produced by frequent band collaborators Daniel Lanois and Brian Eno, who oversaw work on such landmark U2 albums as The Unforgettable Fire and The Joshua Tree.
The first single off the album, "Beautiful Day," written by U2 with lyrics by Bono, hits airwaves October 9. The tune will be issued as two different CD singles--the first containing two new tracks not on the album, "Summer Rain" and "Always," while the second CD includes live versions of "Discotechque" and "If You Wear That Velvet Dress" from a Mexico City performance during the band's PopMart tour. Swedish director Jonas Ackerlund, known for his work with Madonna and Prodigy, just shot the "Beautiful Day" video at Paris' Charles de Gaulle airport.
In addition to "Beautiful Day," the album includes the following cuts: "Elevation," "Walk On," "Stuck in a Moment," "Peace on Earth," "Kite," "New York," "In a Little While," "Wild Honey," "When I Look at the World" and "Grace."
Fans wanting a sneak peak of U2's new sound can go to the group's Website (www.u2.com), which explores all aspects of the new album. Fans can sample a 30-second clip of the new single, as well as watch a video of Bono and drummer Larry Mullen Jr. in the studio.