Published on September 16th, 2014 | by Brendan Flaherty1
U2 – Songs of Innocence
U2 release their latest album for free via Apple; Brendan takes a hard look at the music that wants to free us all. (Sarcasm much?)
Last week, the popular Irish band U2 announced their new long playing album ‘Songs of Innocence.’ They did so by announcing Oprah-style that everybody should look under the seats of their iChairs to find that we all already had the thing. It was a pretty cool stunt, if you ask this music fan, and one that reportedly cost the band $100 Million (or nearly $3 for each citizen of Sudan). It seems to have garnered the four-piece quite a bit of public ire, however, ire that has overshadowed the 11 pop compositions on the album. So, let’s fire up our iPhones and delve into the work of this venerable band.
On ‘Songs of Innocence,’ U2 are up to their old tricks: namely, making songs with universal themes like love, loss, and punk rock that all sound like the soundtrack to a particularly inspiring car commercial. Not only am I going to blast this one from the rooftops, I’ll do it from the speakers of my brand new Audi R8. Paul Hewson — also known as Bono — sings plaintively about waves (‘Every Breaking Wave’), the state of California (‘California (There Is No End To Love)’), volcanoes (‘Volcano’) and somebody (‘Song For Someone’) with such pealing clarity that you know he probably thought really hard when he was writing the lyrics.
The players bring their respective talents to the fore, as well. Guitarist The ‘David Evans’ Edge does a lot of cool stuff where he, like, plays one string a bunch of times in a row but there’s a pedal connected to his guitar so it sounds really echoey and stuff. Bassist Adam Clayton plays the bass throughout the album, demonstrating a keen sense of rhythm and an almost robotic mechanical dexterity. Larry Mullen Jr., the drummer, plays the drums admirably. Kitted out with snare, floor toms, a kick drum, and various cymbals, he gives a certain “groove” to every tune. This is world-class music.
And it really seems that U2 aim to unite the world with this record, since none of the lyrics ever veer far enough into specificity to be unrelatable to people who don’t speak English. Every song here is a quality production that is about something, regardless of what that something is. When Bono sings “I don’t believe anymore” on the song ‘Raised By Wolves,’ you really feel like whatever he’s singing about is deeply felt. And gosh, does this guy ever feel stuff deeply.
The songs become immaterial and almost completely forgettable, seemingly a commentary on slacktivism, and the ways in which people ignore dire problems in favour of the moment. When you listen to the new U2 album, you are listening to famine, death, and the melting polar ice caps. You are listening to a world cry out in pain, in need of a bespectacled Dubliner to be their champion. And, that champion has arisen, ready to right wrongs and feel your pain.
It’s possible that ‘Songs Of Innocence’ might, in fact, be guilty – of being too good. Thanks for the free album, fellas!