Like it or not, U2 are still one of the closest things we have to a universal rock band. After more than 35 years of operation, almost everyone you'll come in contact with likely has an opinion on them, even if it's a simple "eh." If they're not getting a lot of spins in your music rotation, odds are they influenced a band who is. Radiohead's The Bends wouldn't be possible without the Edge's panoramic guitar-work in "Where the Streets Have No Name". Coldplay's seemingly "effortless soaring" becomes mortal when Bono's wounded cry of "love is a temple" rings out in "One". Imaging the Killers without U2's sonic blueprint is impossible.
When you have the sort of cache U2 possesses you can basically do whatever you want, which includes hiring any well-regarded producer in the business. That's precisely what the quartet's done with their upcoming 13th studio album produced by Danger Mouse. And though "Invisible" (first debuted last night during the Super Bowl) is said to not be the first single from the new record, it offers an idea of the head-space U2 occupied. In a behind-the-scenes look at the track, Bono's quoted as saying, "The early lyrics were set on a train coming into London for the first time. I remember sleeping in Euston station, being broke… coming out of the subway into the spring of 1979, being 18 years old, it was punk rock in London…" While Bono's firm insistence "I am here" recalls an 18 year old's identity crisis, the Edge's serpentine guitar in the intro evokes Joy Division and the spirit of '79. That said, not everything is mired in past glories. The warm skitter of the drum sequencing dusts off Gnarls Barkley's Odd Couple and hits fast-forward. Adam Clayton's steadily humming bass holds a double M.A. in Phoenix and the Strokes. "I'm more than you know" Bono defies in the chorus. It won't rewrite their storied history, but "Invisible" at least supports the lofty claim.
U2′s re-teamed with (RED) and Bank of America to make “Invisible” a free download on iTunes from now until 11:59 PM tonight. You can download it here and for each download Bank of America will donate $1 (up to $8 million) to (RED), which aims to fight HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria in Africa.