The infamous album Songs of Innocence by U2 was recently released to the annoyance of iTunes users worldwide. These apple users found themselves burdened by an album they did not want and could not get rid of. Or so I have heard, I hate apple with a passion and don’t use any of their products/services unless I have to. Some may say this was a publicity stunt to keep an aging rock band relevant, some may say it is like the sound torture that interrogators use on the Guantanamo bay detainees. Some may say who the fuck cares about a U2 album, what is this 1987? But most likely this was a critical misunderstanding of the music market and how much the general public actually likes U2. Anyway, onto the actual album!
I will state right off that I am not a U2 fan, although the band did have a point and a good sound once and I will admit “Sunday Bloody Sunday” is a good song. U2 remains in my head however as a band that a “hip” stockbroker pays $500 a ticket to see while buying $15 miller lights and waving his cellphone in the air the entire concert to create that sea of screens audience that is poor imitation of the lighter out concerts of years past.
U2 has released a physical version of their album that has additional tracks from the digital release, whether that justifies actually paying for an album would most likely hinge on whether you’re someone who is a rabid U2 fan but is somehow still unaware of the internet. The album begins with “The Miracle (of Joey Ramone)” because U2 wants you to associate them with an artist who was truly genre defining and never became the corporate whores that U2 now are. The track has a good distorted guitar riff but unfortunately Bono’s digitally enhanced chanting ruins whatever potential the song has. “Every Breaking Wave” is a forgettable bog standard U2 song that sounds like it was tailor made to be used in graduations and wedding ceremonies.
California begins with a hilarious choir chant of “Santa Barbara,” (U2 didn’t get the memo that only RHCP can use California towns as lyrics) and descends into an overly simplistic guitar solo worthy of a fifteen year old’s garage band song. The next tracks are nothing you haven’t heard before. One standout song was “Volcano” which starts with a good bass line and Bono steps out of his comfort zone and tries a different vocal style. Volcano is actually tolerable, mostly because it sounds like U2 tried to ape the sound of much better indie bands circa 2007. The other noticeable track from the first cd is “The Troubles,” where U2 attempts to hearken back to when they were relevant by singing about the North Ireland crisis which ended in the mid 90’s.
The second CD contains the bonus tracks not available on the free version. It contains several songs that didn’t make it on the album as well as acoustic versions of some of the songs from the first album, in case you didn’t get enough of them the first time around. So would I recommend this album? Well, if you are the most rabid of rabid U2 fans and have a crippling fear of technology more advanced than your casio cd player/alarm clock go ahead. Otherwise I would have to say that unless you’re trapped in a mining cave-in and all you have with you is a new iPhone which had the U2 album automatically downloaded to it you might want to take a pass.