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“We are entering that period in our lives where people can suddenly die,” he says.

Clayton suggests the overall takeaway from Songs Of Experience is “affirming and positive. “There are a lot of ageists out there who believe you can’t do rock and roll after the age of 35 but it’s just not true. “The teenager was an invention of the Fifties and the focus was on teenage expression.

We forgot that everyone else had valuable experiences as well.” Songs Of Experience is U2’s attempt “to own our age,” Clayton continues.

When it comes to the complexities of the U2 machine, I find The Edge is the one to offer clarity and insight. “Through a combination of the global climate the album was going to be released into and our own personal stuff, it didn’t seem right to be getting it out in a hurry.

He explains: “We’d been rushing to get Songs Of Experience out by the end of 2016. “We just thought, ‘We’ve got to give ourselves a bit of time here.’ We needed to be certain the album was right.” Clayton, dapper and charming as ever, also alludes to Bono’s turmoil but widens the discussion to the whole band.

It has a combination of innocence and something else going on.” Despite evoking a creeping sense of unease, the album is remarkable for the feel-good sound of many tracks. “Though certain songs are quite intense, a hallmark of this record is that it’s very accessible, has a lot of vitality and melodic power.

“If at least a bunch of them don’t end up becoming fodder for Holiday Inn lounge pianists in 20 years’ time or muzak in an elevator, then we’ll have failed.

So these are themes that are being spoken about.” Lights Of Home couldn’t be any clearer, opening with the sentiment: “I shouldn’t be here ’cause I should be dead.

I can see the lights in front of me.” While personal feelings course through the tracks like blood pumping through veins, they also speak on a universal level.

It’s not all bleak though, as Bono explains in his notes: “‘If, however, you want to look at the stars,’ said Annie Dillard (American author), ‘You will find that darkness is necessary.’” American Soul, one of two songs with a guest appearance from mercurial rapper Kendrick Lamar, picks up on a familiar Bono notion . Of the driving refugee-inspired Red Flag Day, The Edge says: “It was originally in the pile of songs that didn’t make the record but, at beginning of this year, we made it a priority because there was something very powerful in it.” The album cover image, shot by U2’s go-to photographer Anton Corbijn, sums up what’s inside with Bono’s son Eli holding hands with The Edge’s daughter Sian.

Youthful innocence is represented by their bare feet but the troubled world they have to face up to is symbolised by the US M1 military helmet perched on Sian’s head.

A recent New Scientist article "The most ancient piece of you" (4 November 2017) discussed the common ancestors of living beings today.