Soon after there was a backlash due to it appearing on everybody who has iTunes’ music libraries whether they wanted it or not. A bit of a PR disaster which led to a lot of vitriolic rants as well as some internet humour. However, what of the album itself?
Starting off with ’The Miracle (Of Joey Ramone)’ – which U2 also played live at the iPhone launch – we have a song as good as anything U2 have released in the past ten years. It’s catchy, you find the chorus coming back to you hours after you’ve listened to it, and the Edge’s guitar has that classic U2-style throughout.
When second track ’Every Breaking Wave’ starts, the pace has slowed down to a song with a mellow vibe which builds gently to the chorus. Unremarkable, but quite pleasant indeed.
The pace picks up with California (There is no end to love)’ and echoes the appeal of ’The Miracle…’. The catchiness of the chorus is there, as well as the signature guitar. In these first three songs the stall is set for the feel and sound of Songs of Innocence.
Everything which follows is in the mould of what went before, yet this doesn’t make it boring. Like the band have on all previous albums, this album has a sound unique to only it, yet is unmistakably U2.
For me ’Volcano’ is the strongest track here, it harks back to the All You Can’t Leave Behind-era (a good thing). Yet not everything on Songs of Innocence harks back, with tracks like ’Sleep Like A Baby Tonight’ bringing a more electronic sound to proceedings.
No matter your thoughts on the band, Bono’s preaching, their tax-paying (or lack of), you cannot deny U2’s longevity or ability to make top quality albums. After only a few listens I had most of the songs lodged in my head, and on next hearing was greeting them positively.
This is a strong album from U2, however are they as relevant as they one were, and do people still want to hear what they have to say? Well, if they felt the way to get it heard was to push their album on everybody who has an iPhone or iTunes whether asked for or not, I’d wager the answer to that is no.