I’ve been listening to U2 since my dad played their first album, Boy, to me in my crib, and I’ve always worshipped them. One of their recent albums, No Line on the Horizon, came out in 2009 and in the five-year lag that followed, my loyalty strayed. I even told my health class that Coldplay was my favorite band. This was all until September 9 when I, along with U2’s tens of millions of other fans, was blessed with their new album, Songs of Innocence. The album appeared in everyone’s iTunes library for free, and after I pressed play, I said stupid things all day because my mind was caught up in the music.
In their thirteen albums, U2 has done nothing but improve as their musical and lyrical savvy has deepened with time and experience. Songs of Innocence is shockingly catchy, more so than I have noticed in previous albums. The heavy bass in “Volcano” is reminiscent of Arctic Monkeys; “Sleep Like a Baby Tonight” opens with a techno beat; and “Troubles” sounds like a romantic orchestral piece. All of them sound like they came off the alternative top 100 list. While these songs seem uncharacteristic of U2, all of the songs in Songs of Innocence manage to sound exactly like U2; whether it’s in their powerful lyrics, Clayton’s bass, Mullen’s drums, The Edge’s guitar, or Bono’s distinct voice, their style comes through in each song to make them unmistakably U2.
What makes Songs of Innocence so breathtaking is its culture as much as its melody. In the lead song, “The Miracle (Of Joey Ramone),” Bono pays tribute to U2’s musical inspiration—The Ramones; in “Iris (Hold Me Close),” he sings a haunting song about his mother, who died when he was fourteen; in “Cedarwood Road,” Bono sings a nostalgic tune about his childhood at 10 Cedarwood Road in Dublin, Ireland; and in “Raised by Wolves,” the band delivers a politically-charged memorial of a series of car-bombings that tore apart Dublin in the early 1970s. Each song reminds me how awestruck I am by the kind of band U2 is: the kind that started 38 years ago and continues to stun the world with their music, the kind that has won more Grammys than any other, the kind that doesn’t exist anywhere else.
Rolling Stone says that, “No other rock band does rebirth like U2.” I could not agree more, and I can’t predict how long I will continue to be blown out of the water by a band that has been famous for more than twice as long as I’ve been alive.