U2 released their first album in five years to much fanfare at Apple’s product release press conference on Tuesday, Sept. 9. The 11 song album Songs of Innocence is available for free to iTunes subscribers, which also made this the largest album release of all time according to Rolling Stone magazine.
The band as a whole is still rocking out, with Bono’s ageless voice and Edge’s sharp guitar skills, but there isn’t anything new to discover. The songs are melodic and follow the standard pop rock formula. There is no discernible classic. At times, it felt conceptual, like they were finished developing the thought.
U2 tries punk on for size in the first track “The Miracle (of Joey Ramone).” The heavier guitar sound and some na-na-nana chanting in the bridge section is a clear tribute to The Ramones. It’s about finding that one song that speaks to you and becomes the soundtrack to your life. This is the best song on the album.
The songs that follow are the same sounding pop rock songs that made them popular with the 1987 album Joshua Tree and carried them through the 1990’s with Achtung Baby.
Each song leads with long instrumental intros to warm you up before getting to the meat of the song. There is the bass and drum heavy intro in “Volcano,” the bluesy singing on “The Troubles” or the sounds of seagulls calling out on “This Is Where You Can Reach Me Now.” With the number of producers they worked with, including Danger Mouse and Ryan Tedder, you’d think there would be some stylistic variations.
Listening to this album is like reading someone’s diary, sometimes endearing with the albums fourth track “Song for Someone,” about first love and sometimes incoherent with the seventh “Raised By Wolves.”
Songs of Innocence is available now until Oct. 13 on the iTunes cloud for free .