U2 ‘Songs of Innocence’ Review Roundup: Surprise Album Released at Apple Event for iPhone 6 and Apple Watch

September 9, 2014

U2’s new album is ‘Songs of Innocence’ and it was released by surprise at the Apple event, which announced the iPhone 6 and the new Apple Watch. Despite short notice, the music critics are weighing in with their reviews. Find out what they have to say.

As was expected, U2 took to the stage at the Cupertino, California event on September 9th after an introduction from Apple CEO Tim Cook. And, as also expected they performed. But from that point on all expectations were exceeded. Not only did the legendary rockers perform a song from the new album — ‘The Miracle (of Joey Ramone)’ — but Bono, in speaking with Cook expressed his desire that the album reach as many people as possible.

And just five seconds later his wish was granted; the album was released on iTunes to half a billion subscribers, which is reportedly the largest album release in history. And not only that, the album is the world learned that the album is available for free for a limited time on iTunes.

Needless to say this has set the entertainment world a blaze. It’s a variation of the surprise album theme which Beyonce introduced us to last December. As her release of a complete album was a gamechanger, so too is this release by U2. A free album on iTunes. It’s a masterstroke of marketing and we can see the parallels. It’s been a long time since U2 released an album –‘No Line on the Horizon’ was released in 2009 — and fans are eager just as they were with Beyonce’s self-titled fifth album. As the hours and days go by, it will be fascinating to observe the kinds of waves U2 will make with ‘Songs of Innocence’ which is the band’s 13th studio album.

Bono gave an interview to Rolling Stone which was published right after the surprise release. He said in part, “”We wanted to make a very personal album. Let’s try to figure out why we wanted to be in a band, the relationships around the band, our friendships, our lovers, our family. The whole album is first journeys — first journeys geographically, spiritually, sexually. And that’s hard. But we went there.” The full interview is here.

Here’s a roundup of reviews thus far; check back, as this post will be updated as reviews arrive.

“….On first impressions, Songs of Innocence is not an attempt to create a grand masterpiece that redefines the band, but rather, as the title suggests, to reconnect them with an elusive pop elixir of youthful energy and passion. Lyrically, it reflects on the past, on their origins as a band and as individuals, which is unusual territory for the usually forward-looking Bono and the Edge (who share lyrical duties). Lead single and opening track, The Miracle (of Joey Ramone) sets the confident tone, with its “oh-way-oh” choral chant, glam rock stomping rhythm and surges of grungy guitar. ….” — The Telegraph

“…More than any U2 album before it, Songs of Innocence goes deep into Bono and the rest of bandmembers’ teenage years in Dublin in the Seventies. The first song captures the big bang of Bono’s musical awakening: the first time he heard the Ramones. “Everything I’ve ever lost now has been returned,” Bono sings. “The most beautiful sound I ever heard…We were pilgrims on our way.” It sounds like the band are very purposefully not trying to sound like the Ramones here, though – instead, the track starts with powerful, almost “Mysterious Ways”-like burst of guitar from the Edge, and is driven by a lilting Bono melody and an overdubbed vocal refrain….Rolling Stone

Check back for more reviews which will be added as soon as they are available. Video of U2’s performance at the Apple event is below.

Pictures: PR Photos

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