Readers' Poll: The 10 Best Albums of 2014

Tom Petty, Lana Del Rey, U2 and more: see how our readers' ranked the year's greatest music

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U2, 'Songs of Innocence'

2. U2, 'Songs of Innocence'

U2 went through four years and five producers until they had 11 songs they deemed worthy of release. "We had great fun getting lost in the creative process," Bono told Rolling Stone. "The thing that propelled us to reach deeper and aim higher was a new appreciation of the craft of songwriting. . .We found ourselves bored with material that just felt good or unique."

In order to find the energy and passion that fueled him to become a singer in the first place, Bono began writing a series of tunes about his turbulent teenage years in Ireland. "I went back and started listening to all the music that made us start a rock band," he said. "It gave us a reason to exist again. That’s how this album started."

The tracks on Songs of Innocence deal with the death of Bono's mother, falling in love with his future wife Ali and first hearing the Ramones. They're more stripped down than the material on U2's last few albums. "We wanted the album to have songs that would stand up when played on acoustic guitars or piano," Bono said, "not relying on Edge, Adam and Larry’s atmospheres or dynamic playing."

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