The Internet Is Pissed About U2’s Free ‘Songs Of Innocence’ Album, And Critics Are Divided: Review Revue

Bradley Stern | September 11, 2014 2:28 pm

Yes, U2 ‘did a Beyoncé‘ and released a surprise album out of nowhere. But beyond even what Bey did, the band’s Songs Of Innocence LP also showed up on everyone’s Apple user’s iPhone as a special corporate tie-in…whether they wanted it or not.

That lack of consumer choice, perhaps unsurprisingly, led to more than just a little grumbling and snark on the Internet: “A slew of Apple users are complaining that the album is automatically appearing in iTunes and on their iOS devices whether they want it there or not. And there’s no truly quick and simple way to remove it,” tech site CNET concluded. And the reactions — mostly on Twitter — were largely hilarious.

But beyond the inescapable factor, there’s still a new U2 album at hand. So…is it even any good? Read on after the jump to find out what music critics around the globe had to say.

:: Rolling Stone was breathless with enthusiasm, awarding the album a full 5 out of 5 stars: “These are the oldest stories in rock & roll – adolescent restlessness; traumatic loss; the revelation of rescue hiding in a great chorus or power chord. But Songs of Innocence is the first time U2 have told their own tales so directly, with the strengths and expression they have accumulated as songwriters and record-makers.”

:: The New York Times was similarly praising in its analysis, declaring it a “blast”: “With a title that echoes William Blake, the album is a blast of discoveries, hopes, losses, fears and newfound resolve in lyrics that are openly autobiographical. It’s also a blast of unapologetic arena rock and cathedral-scale production, equally gigantic and detailed, in the music that carries them.”

:: Spin were calmer in their appraisal, but still enjoyed the ride: “Instead of a triumphant return to form, then, Innocence is more of a satisfying side conversation, a familiar face coming round to the back door and whiling the time away nicely till dark or dawn. Fans will be glad it dropped by, and while there’s no definitive anthem, several songs will settle in the memory. If it’s not among U2’s “best,” that may be an improvement — lighter, more refreshing, dare I say even fun.”

:: Billboard had equally positive things to say about the LP — as well as the brand that put it into the universe — in its 4-out-of-5 review: “Unless Apple has some super amazing new apps up its sleeve, it — like so much of Songs of Innocence — is strong enough to keep fans from messing with their iPhones.”

:: The Guardian was slightly less starry-eyed with their 3 out of 5 star review, concluding: “The initial impression is that this album sees the band not so much still looking for something that they haven’t yet found, but rather treading old ground without much of a sense of how to move forward.”

:: The Independent gave it a 3 out of 5 as well, suggesting that the unoriginal-but-safe method of delivery matched its contents: “Nearly five years struggling to record a follow-up to the lacklustre No Line On the Horizon, they seem to have arrived back where they started, secure in the comfort-zone of stadium-sized yearning they perfected decades ago with The Joshua Tree.”

:: And finally, Stereogum was thankful for this new album — to prove that it sucks in comparison to Beyoncé’s own surprise record: “BEYONCÉ had those songs. Those songs had energy and spirit and ideas, and they all sounded different from each other, tickling pleasure centers in different ways. And lo and behold, the album still sounds great almost a year later. Songs Of Innocence doesn’t have those songs, and it sounds like bullshit two days later. All the audacious marketing in the world can’t polish a turd. Songs Of Innocence is in your iTunes right now, and there’s nothing you can do about it.” Ouch.

What do you think of the album? Sound off in the comments below.