Songs of Innocence

Let’s move past the how and why we’re listening to U2’s new record (the band and Apple slid it right into your iTunes)—I’ll save that for think-pieces written by people who think too much. Songs of Innocence is a decent U2 record, not nearly as awful as the kneejerk reviews tell us, but definitely not a revelation. Any expectations for musical thrills at this juncture in the band’s career are unrealistic; I just want U2 to do what they do well. And we get that in the end, for about five songs. The first half drips with as much sentimentality as it does reverb (Danger Mouse oversaw most of the production), with Bono reflecting on the power of music and the death of his mother on “The Miracle (of Joey Ramone)” and “Iris (Hold Me Close).” It’s not till we’re greeted with Adam Clayton’s thumping bassline on “Volcano” that Songs of Innocence comes to life. It’s followed by “Raised by Wolves,” the excellent “Sleep Like a Baby Tonight,” and the haunting and hushed closer “The Troubles” (with Lykki Li’s vocals being the centerpiece). Maybe next time U2 should try something else revelatory for a band of their stature—be bold enough to trim the fat and release an EP. That would raise an eyebrow or two.