Slightly pretentious and at times tedious in predictability, there is a great deal to like about Songs of Innocence.
Brent Black / www.criticaljazz.com
The first studio release in five years has the band working a slightly less is more philosophy while banging out their classic sound with laser like precision. Some releases review themselves and anything from U2 would easily fill that square but this is the modern evolution of a band with the potential to continue a substantial run for at least another decade and by doing so they could be welcoming a new generation of fans...Mom, dad and the kids going to a U2 show, stranger things have happened. Truth be told, if I had not found the release dropped into my iTunes cloud then I probably would have never given it the time of day.
The sound is somewhat darker while embracing ambient electronica and working in some contemporary pop sounds for a new approach to a signature formula. The title is drawn from the William Blake collection of poems from 1789 and childhood inspiration that is now all grown up. Social activism rears it's predictable head and the lyrics are intended to inspire but there does come an age where dignity trumps rock and roll every time. Welcome to middle age Bono, glad you could make it. Songs of Emotional Upheaval may have been a better title.
There is not much left to say as long time fans will have plenty to cheer about. New fans will find their way and those of us who have also had life hand us our head on more than one occasion will simply tell Bono to suck it up and move on.
4 Stars...and thanks iTunes.