Album: Songs of Innocence
Details: 11 songs; 49 minutes
Who’s Choice: Gone Mild
One of my favorite music critics to read is this guy named, Carl Wilson (not to be confused with Beach Boy, Carl Wilson). Several years ago, he wrote a book about Celine Dion and how it is kind of a thing to bag on her music. The book is his attempt to explain why that is. Celine Dion is a perfectly fine singer and she obviously has a remarkably strong fan base. What Carl Wilson proposes is that it is an ethical choice made by Celine-haters – a choice based on thinking that one is better than those who choose to like Celine (or any other over-exposed pop culture icon).
I think that same thing happens with U2 – there is a tendency among coolsters to roll their eyes at anything Bono. And there is almost universal sentiment that they haven’t made anything that could match what they were doing when they put out Joshua Tree (1987) and its predecessors.
U2 puts itself out there in many ways. They have an iconic look – Bono in his tinted glasses; Edge in his stocking cap. They have allowed their songs to be used for commercial purposes. And they have used their celebrity to push humanitarian causes that they believe strongly in (love them or not, they are one of the most charitable of celebrity groups – this is an interesting website to look at what others do).
That is a lot of build-up to my review of U2’s newest album, Songs of Innocence – the album that just showed up in any active iTunes account’s music library. Dan naturally brings in the William Blake reference in his review, which enthusiastically loves on this album. My impression? Well, I am the person who bought and also liked the band’s last two albums. I like U2; I like this album.
The album is meant as a homage to the band’s roots and personal history. The first track – which is the one that you hear on the new Apple ITunes commercial – is titled The Miracle (of Joey Ramone). Sure, it has the U2 song formula, but I like that. And when Bono sings:
I woke up at the moment when the miracle occurred
Heard a song that made some sense out of the world
Everything I ever lost now has been returned
The most beautiful sound I ever heard
If you love music, tell me that you haven’t had that feeling – when music becomes more than just a melody?
The other songs on the album similarly address music as a gift and a means to transmit a message or a a feeling. There are sweet ballads and rockers. In my mind, it is a consistently good listen.
I do admit there was one song that gave me some pause in my inclination to board that “Hell, yeah, I like this album” band wagon. Turns out, this is Dan’s favorite song on the album – Raised by Wolves. The wolf-child analogy is fraught with possible fun-making, and my own misunderstanding of a lyric almost tipped me into that. The lyric that stood out for me came in this verse:
Boy sees his father crushed under the weight
Of a cross in a passion where the passion is hate.
Blue mink Ford, I’m gonna detonate and you’re dead
That’s a serious verse – if you hear it correctly. Unfortunately, I heard the line “detonate and you’re dead” as “detonate in your den.” That made me think that meant “take a sh** in your house”, which made me laugh. Listening to the song correctly, set me straight (but even typing this, still makes me laugh – sometime I am not very mature).
Both Dan and I come to U2 with our hearts open. Our open hearts and iTunes brought us a winner listen this week.
Next up: Paul Thorn’s Too Blessed to Be Stressed