It was what they did to Charles Stewart Parnell which was the final straw.

One night last week, U2 projected the cover of their new album onto the statue of Parnell which sits at the top of O’Connell Street in Dublin. The statue has sat there for over a century, keeping an eye on pigeons and protestors and minding its own business. Then U2 decided it would make a handy backdrop for a projection to plug a new album.

Such a grandiose exhibition of extreme notions is par for the course with this remarkably tone-deaf band. Over the last couple of releases, they and Team U2 have become convinced that we NEED to know about every new release as if this was Moses rocking on down from the mountain with an extra commandment he forgot to include rather than a past-it heritage band with another patchy album.

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Between their Trump-like invasion of our iPhones with an unwanted new album and the various stunts they still engage in (like busking "unannounced" in a Berlin subway station yet with enough media to make sure it gets covered far and wide), U2 have become the band who try too hard.

There are many reasons for this sad state of affairs. Firstly, U2 are old f**kers. There’s nothing wrong with this – these days, I too am an old f**ker – but I do realise times have changed. U2 grew up in a time when maximalism was the way to go and any sort of major label campaign involving trying to make sure you got saturation coverage everywhere. They still think such times exist in 2017 because they are surrounded by Team U2, a bunch of blustering yes-men and yes-women. These sycophants also belong to the past and clearly believe that their jobs depend on pandering to the myth and keeping anyone with difficult questions out of the way.

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Secondly, U2 seem to genuinely think they’re in a competition with all the young guns when their actual peers are already either dead or on the not-so-hot-any-more circuit. You have to admire such wrong-headed belief in one’s own abilities to run a race you should really run a mile from, but that’s only until you have to listen to the new album. Hold that thought for a few more paragraphs. There’s one more thing to talk about before we get to that.

Over the last decade, U2’s tax affairs have become the headline, the hook and the first paragraph.

Thirdly…can we talk about the tax thing now? It’s a fact that there are many Irish people of a certain vintage (30s to 50s) who have a fondness for such worthy causes as Amnesty International, Greenpeace and the like because U2 were evangelists for these movements back in the 1980s. What the band did in drawing attention to such organisations was hugely positive and powerful. It showed how pop and politics could mix.

These days, the only organisations the band draw attention to are tax-efficient shelters in the Netherlands or shopping centres in Lithuania. Over the last decade, U2’s tax affairs have become the headline, the hook and the first paragraph. The band and Team U2 will claim that this is just a stick to beat the band with, but it’s only so because the band provided the wood to whittle in the first place. I am sure many acts I admire and respect have similarly murky accountancy practices, but they’re not going around holier-than-thou calling for debt relief and the like. Surely Bono remembers some of his bible lessons from that room over Ron’s newsagent in Fairview?

The sleeve to U2's Songs Of Experience

And then (deep sigh), there’s the music. I listened to the album at the weekend from start to finish. I listened to it as a lapsed fan who is still hoping against hope that they might actually come good again. I listened to it because I thought some of those hype reviews I’d seen and heard must be on the money. I listened to it as a music fan who was eager to discover what spending a lot of time and money on a rock’n’roll record can produce these days.

Every U2 album from the last decade and a half has been a bust and Songs Of Experience continues this luckless, shoddy run.

Well, spending a lot of time and money on a rock’n’roll record is pretty useless unless you have a few songs and there’s the problem. There are no songs on Songs Of Experience which will last the test of time. There is absolutely nothing here which resembles a song which will change your life, turn the world upside down, put goose pimples on your arm, make you play it again or want you to play it for someone else. There is instead, as has been the case for the last couple of albums, the sad, empty, desperate sound of a group of lads going through the motions of being in a rock band.

U2 go on a lot in all those needless promo campaigns with their house-trained hacks about the past and how the past informs their present and all that hackneyed prime-time northside Dublin yadda-yadda-yadda. In this regard, they’re as much misguided nostalgists as the Lucan-reared Conor McGregor banging on about his Crumlin ‘hood to every Yank who will listen. The U2 who came of age in the Dublin of the late 1970s would laugh mercilessly at the goons who’ve produced this album. They would also, let’s be fair, slag off the band who produced the last album too.

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Instead of reasons to believe, Songs Of Experience is full of expensive, exquisite, glossy nothingness. It is an album of bluster, blandness and emptiness, a record which exists not because there is a desperate need for it to exist as an expression of four middle-aged men’s inner turmoil, confusion and angst, but because there was a gap in the last quarter of the financial year for it. Every U2 album from the last decade and a half has been a bust and Songs Of Experience continues this luckless, shoddy run.

Spending a lot of time and money on a rock’n’roll record is pretty useless unless you have a few songs and there’s the problem.

It’s a huge pity. U2 were once decent musical skins, but there’s no life in those eyes anymore. They’ll keep touring and retreating to the land of the greatest hits –the fuss over the last tour was because those Joshua Tree songs were what the fans wanted to hear – and everyone in Team U2 will be as happy as Larry.

But U2 will also doggedly keep making albums like this that no-one really wants. They’ll keep pushing their musical irrelevance, keep projecting pictures of their mickeys onto public spaces worldwide, keep employing a galaxy of engineers and producers and hand-holders and bag-carriers to make their tea.

Some day, U2 may well produce a record which hints at the real men behind the hats and heels. Some day, we might get a record from them where a bunch of Irishmen wrestle with questions of paranoia, failure, deceit, depression, uncertainty, doubt, death, hypocrisy and all those big themes which people of their ilk should be producing.

On this showing, though, U2 are just not capable of doing that.