U2: Songs of Innocence Review

BY REBECCA GLEAVE

I was at the young age of 6, when I heard my first U2 song. My brother would always blare rock classics such as Elvis’ ‘A Little Less Conversation’. But there was always one song that I would demand him to play over and over again. I would ask him to play the song that has the words ‘a mole, living in a hole…’, to which he would kindly oblige. The years passed and I got my first iPod aged 13. After adding the Now That’s What I Call Music albums, I realised what was missing: the song of my childhood about the moles. Fair to say, when I called my brother up asking him, he had no clue what I was on about. So off I went to Google and typed in the lyrics of what I remembered and lo and behold there it was! The nostalgia was so hard that it almost knocked me out.

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Image: billboard.com

Fast forward five or so years and Elevation is still in my top 25 played on iTunes (sitting comfortably at number 3, just below One Directions- Best Song Ever, don’t judge me).

On to the new album, I was slightly confused as to why I suddenly had these random U2 songs appearing in my iTunes. Panicking, I thought that someone had hacked in to my account and was purchasing songs from my account (little did I know that this anonymous ‘hacker’ was in fact doing me a favour). But in my investigating I saw on Twitter that the group had in fact done a surprise release of their new album.

I was so excited to delve deeper into the tracks and hear the entrancing instrumentals and riffs that I so loved about U2. My first play of the album was a complete run through of the tracks so I could become familiar with the ones that really gripped me – no pauses, no interruptions – just 46 minutes of straight music, to which I would then listen to the one or two that I really liked again, disregarding the rest for a deeper listen another day. This 46 minute run-through turned into a 90+ runthrough. When the tracks finished the first time, I just had to hear them all again, I couldn’t just pick one that had gripped me the first time, because they all did. There was something different about each one that made them all so unique to one another.

The 9th track on the album ‘Sleep Like a Baby Tonight’, is probably one of the most stand out ones though. The synth effects at the beginning immediately hooked me and lead singer Bono, really allows the emotions to be felt in many lines in this ballad – ‘It’s a dirty business dreaming, where there is silence and not screaming, where there’s no daylight there’s no healing’.

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Image: Wall Street Journal

‘Iris (Hold Me Close)’ is another one of those tracks that is likely to tug on the heart strings of listeners, with its touching and heartfelt lyrics, and its dedication to lead singer Bono’s mother in the aptly named title, it’s probably one of the more personal songs on the album, singing about how ‘I’ve got your life inside me’. It is one of those songs that you have to go back and replay after just listening to it due to the beauty of the interweaving lyrics and the hauntingly smooth guitar riffs. A story is definitely built within the five minutes of the track and it is worth listening to with open ears, simply for the touching lyrical story.

Amongst the more heartfelt songs are tracks such as ‘California (There Is No End To Love)’ which provides a bright and upbeat tempo, reminding me of a Beach Boys-esque style in certain parts. ‘Raised by Wolves’ is one of the songs on the album that really makes you sit up straight- with it’s opening sound instantly having me wanting more and the chorus almost pouncing through my headphones.

But the fact that Songs of Innocence is in fact FREE is a winning factor for everyone- the audience gets 11 good-quality songs at no charge and U2 gain potentially half a billion sales with minimal marketing (something that would turn many music artists green with envy). What I would be interested to know, is whether the fact the album is free might change the age demographic of U2’s fans, what with this generations lust for ‘cost of free’ goods. Either way, new or old fans of U2, there is definitely a song to suit everyone on the album.

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