Monday, September 15, 2014

The Music Maven's Music Monday #17: U2 Songs of Innocence

Nerdy Girlie readers know me as The Music Maven, a name given to me by The Nerdy Girlie, and I don’t know how mavenish I am, but I do enjoy sharing the music I love.  You might not know that I’m a lifelong U2 fan – we’re talking 30 years of U2 fandom.  In the U2 world some people know me as U2mom – my screename for a very longtime in the U2 social media community.  U2 fans have been waiting for five years for a new U2 album and on September 9th we finally got our hands on new U2 tunes – along with a billion other iTunes subscribers.  I’ve been asked a lot about my opinions about the album – not because anyone really cares what I think about it, but people are interested in what longtime fans think about U2’s latest effort considering the hype around the release.  
Here are my track-by-track thoughts on Songs of Innocence:

  • The Miracle (Of Joey Ramone) – I love the distorted guitar riff on this track.  This will be a great song live.  The chorus is sing-along friendly.  Joey Ramone was a U2 fan and I think he’d be flattered by this effort.
  • Every Breaking Wave – Diehard U2 fans are already familiar with this song – hearing bits of it awhile back during the 360 tour.  Of all the songs on the album I feel like this is the most cohesive.  It’s the most pop sounding U2 ballad that I can remember.  Ryan Tedder definitely left his mark on this one.
  • California (There Is No End to Love) – The Santa Barbara lyrics/chant at the beginning are annoying – was this a Brian Wilson tribute?  Anyway, once I get past being annoyed, it’s an okay song. It has a very Beautiful Day vibe to it, but not much to get excited about.
  • Song for Someone – I can’t put my finger on what this song reminds me of and it’s bothering me.  It’s bothering me because it reminds me of probably another forgettable song by a forgettable artist.   A pretty acoustic guitar intro and Bono’s vocals are sounding really good – I think this was the first song that I noticed how much stronger Bono sounds on this album than on No Line On The Horizon.
  • Iris (Hold Me Close) – This is the song on first listen that intrigued me most.  The personal nature of Bono’s lyrics always get to me – so many years since Bono’s mother’s passing and she’s still so present in his life.  Solid effort.
  • Volcano – This song is lyrically ridiculous – and by Bono standards that’s saying something.  I mean there’s no “cockatoo” reference, but it’s the weakest track lyrically on this album.  I will be hitting “skip” on this one.
  • Raised by Wolves – Reminiscent of Boy and War.  The build up to the chorus is pretty tame – I can barely manage a toe tap leading up to the chorus, but I actually like it when Bono belts out the “Raised by Wolves” part – it’s got some intensity which the rest of the album is lacking.  It will be interesting to see if this song makes it into the next tour – I’d love to hear Bono sing that chorus. Kudos to Adam for a pretty sick bass line on this one, too.
  • Cedarwood Road – The intro of this song reminds me of Electrical Storm, but then goes in a totally different direction – one I like, and then Bono comes in and the momentum of The Edge’s guitar kinda takes a dive.  
  • Sleep Like a Baby Tonight – This song is another skipper or should I say sleeper for me.  Maybe a bit of a Pop vibe, but not feeling it after several listens.  I do enjoy how dirty Edge’s guitar is on this track.
  • This Is Where You Can Reach Me – This song was inspired by The Clash and I can hear some moments that are in tribute to them – but I wish the song had a little of the bombast that Joe Strummer and Company were known for.
  • The Troubles – Another “skipper” for me.  The guest appearance of Lykke Li was a nice surprise but again just not doing anything for me.

Overall, this isn’t my favorite U2 album – but it’s in keeping with how I felt about their last album No Line On The Horizon – a few hits and a few misses.  Actually, on this album 5 out of the 11 songs are okay for me, nothing too exciting, but I don’t feel the urge to skip to the next song.  I am and always will be a U2 fan – they are truly the soundtrack to my life and I’m hopeful that the next album will be one of those that I can listen to from start to finish in complete bliss.  It’s really not an indictment on the band, but probably more to do with me, in five years I’ve listened to some really great bands and maybe U2 aren’t  my cup o’ tea at the moment.  Only time will tell if Songs Of Innocence grows on me – I hope it does, but there’s lots of bands out there that will keep me blissed out  in the meantime.


Unknown said...

I totally agree with your review. I was/am a big U2 fan and their old albums bring back good memories and fun times with my then boyfriend NOW husband - lol. I just expect every one of their albums to be amazing and haven't really been impressed for awhile. I do agree too that music can be a soundtrack to a time in your life that will always make you feel that excitement you had. It's such a powerful thing!

Joie Fatale said...

I haven't heard SoI yet, but I feel like the pressure to "create" (forced creation maybe?) a new album everyother year or so is detrimental to the process. I feel like Maybe U2 should take a break. It did wonders for Green Day (they are my soundtrack to life) with American Idiot, but I felt 21st Century Breakdown was their weakest album to date (I understand the commercial success, but to me, Billie Joe's writing seemed forced and passive/static in the chance to progress.

From what little I have heard of SoI, it's similar.

But Bono is still my "Old-Man-Crush"...forever! (It's the voice...).
Thank you for the track breakdown!

Unknown said...

I get the feel you find this album boring. That is what you get for discovering so much other good music the past 5 years.

Unknown said...

Joie -- I think the problem here is they took so long and the revolving door of producers. To me there's a lot of noise, meaning a lot of production and busy-ness, and it doesn't feel cohesive in places. It's not the worst album ever, but I think they are second guessing themselves. So much self-doubt...let it go, boys! You're freaking U2 -- you don't need to be "relevant" and drag in every hip producer of the day. Thanks to you all for reading -- I appreciate you reading the thoughts of an old U2 fan. =)

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