Author Topic: 1 month into of Songs Of Innocence, what has happened to the album for you?  (Read 7650 times)

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PookaMacP

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Great idea for a thread.

At first I was I was neither underwhelmed nor overwhelmed, just, well, whelmed. The Troubles stood out immediately as a classic, while I remember liking California and Raised By Wolves quite a bit too. I haven't played this record a huge amount, but here, a month or so in, here are my impressions:

Miracle is a bit of a grower. I thought it was awful on the iTunes launch thing, I think it was awful on Graham Norton, and I think it sounds much better acoustic. It's okay, but the chorus is weak and it just kinda rumbles along without every taking off. 6/10

Every Breaking Wave I thought was a little overproduced to begin with, but once I heard the acoustic version it really made me go back to the album with different ears. It was always my favourite of the new songs played on 360. Some of the lyrics here are excellent, not least the whole breaking wave imagery itself. 8.5/10

California The Angelus!! Love the 'Santa Barbara' bit at the start and the whole pace of the song. It's very fresh – I'm struggling to put my finger on where or who has ever sounded like this before. The acoustic version brings something different to it again. 8/10

Song For Someone Similar to Every Breaking Wave, I thought this was a little over-produced to begin with (and a little cheesy too). I like it now – again, the acoustic version brought the song out more and made me appreciate it a little more – but I still can't figure out what song it reminds me of. 8/10

Iris I didn't really get this on first go, and I still don't. Reminds me a little of the Linear version of Winter, as in it sounds like a number of different songs stuck together. At points it threatens to take off, at others it tails away, most of the time it just trundles along inoffensively. 6/10

Volcano Dreadful on first listen, and still dreadful. The worst of twenty-first century U2. Why, oh why, do they insist on this 'Dad Rock' sound? This record's All Because Of You (not a good thing). 3/10

Raised By Wolves Now we get back to the interesting sounds. I love the breathing sounds in the intro, lyrically this is very strong, and it has such an unusual sound and arrangement. Really strong stuff – sounds like it would fit in around the War period but with a very distinctly twenty-first century sound. The chorus is great too (great treatment on Bono's 'Raised' vocal). 8.5/10

Cedarwood Road There's that Dad Rock guitar again. Contains one of the clunkiest lines Bono has ever come up with – 'Northside, just across the river to the southside' – but that fits in with the general plodding nature of the song itself. I'd be happy to never hear this live. 5/10

Sleep Like A Baby Tonight That synth line is just superb, is it not? Drumming and dirty guitar aren't have bad either. An intensely catchy chorus melody, and the vocals have a really great filter applied to them (reminds me of late Beatles, 'Dear Prudence' style). Oh, and the falsetto's back, however briefly. All good. 8.5/10

This Is Where You Can Reach Me Now I really wish they'd called this 'Soldier Soldier' or something less cumbersome, but that aside this is another very inventive song. Just like Raised By Wolves the arrangement is unusual, the guitar sounds quite different, and the (Gimme Shelter-style) intro is just brilliant. This took a while to grow on me, but I love the pseudo-Clash-does-pseudo-reggae tempo on the verses. Great chorus too. 8/10

The Troubles The proof that they still have it. Probably the best thing they've done since Please, and a perfect closer to the record. Lykke Li's vocal is superb (the genius of that vocal melody is only heightened once you've sat through the flaccid alternative version), the lyrics are striking (have U2 come up with a better image than 'Somebody stepped inside your soul' in the past fifteen years?), and musically (from the echo on the drums to the string section) it's spot-on. Just perfect. If only they'd open their ears and play it live. 10/10

Overall: a better record than I'd expected, and better than ATYCLB and HTDAAB certainly (I still have a soft spot for NLOTH), but it only adds further weight to an argument I've made for a long time: that U2 sound better when they're in their fifty-something-year-old skins and not trying to contort themselves into uncomfortable shapes. What do I mean? Well, I always felt that Moment of Surrender was the sound of a band coming to terms with its maturity; this record has that sound in bucket-loads and it's when they embrace it (as on The Troubles, Every Breaking Wave, and Song For Someone) that they're at their strongest. Following hot on the heels of those tracks are the songs – mainly Danger Mouse-led – that stretch the band sonically. I completely understand why Bono is going after the 'songs you can play with a guitar' vibe, but to me it's the sonic vibes of Achtung Baby, Pop, etc (those sounds that no one else can replicate) that make U2 so interesting. On which note, no matter that it apes Roxy Music quite a bit in the verses, Crystal Ballroom should definitely have been on the record.

Overall: 7.5/10
« Last Edit: October 21, 2014, 04:09:28 PM by PookaMacP »

Offline mc

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Only really getting tired of Miracle, which in my opinion does not fit on the album well. I don't like the 'who-oooohho---ohhhh' stuff, just the guitar rifts. After that the album starts for me. I prefer Invisible to Miracle. Lets hope Miracle is the last of the 'dad rock' and they go down the Crystal Ballroom path.....more long solos like on CB please.
Best tracks EBW, California, Troubles..........however its the most playable album since POP. I could never listen to a full NLOTH these days..

Offline U2Tim

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The Miracle: Initially didn't like it that much, but it has really grown on me.
Every Breaking Wave: Good U2 song, one of the best on the album.
California: I have liked this from the start.
Song For Someone: Excellent song. Intimate and also soaring.
Iris: Perhaps my favourite from the album.
Volcano: Loved it and now like it a little less.
Raised By Wolves: My least favourite on the album.
Cedarwood Road: Solid. One of their best songs in years.
SLABT: Also solid, and again, one of their best.
TIYCRM: Loved it from the start.
The Troubles: Gorgeous melody and lyrics.

Offline keirdubois

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I don't get U2 tagged as dad-rock. That's kind of lazy and narrow-minded.

And really, if we must do this, they're mom-rock. I don't imagine they'd have patience for macho crap.

Offline ian ryan

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My estimation of it continues to grow. Initially I felt it was an extremely tight, coherent album that was much more than the sum of its parts, but also that it had no really stand out parts. I still don't hear a hit single on it, but the quality of the songs impresses me more and more. I'm not normally as much of a fan of the U2 ballads as the rock songs, but Every Breaking Wave keeps on showing up in my head again and again. I find myself humming it more than any other ballad U2 has released. Iris is still my favorite song on the album, and I don't see that changing any time soon. The more time I have to reflect on the music and the lyrics, the more impressed I am at the story the album tells. I've grown a bit weary of U2's nostalgia trip they've been on for the past decade. While I love what has been produced (Window In The Skies is an incredibly underrated song), I've been thinking, "You glorify the past when the future dries up." This album feels like they took their back glances and made them modern. They're not looking back fondly so much as telling modern/timeless stories that just happen to be set in the past. I think this is a very welcome change, and if they're able to filter Songs Of Experience through a similar lens, I think it could be astonishing. SOI has taken a while to set in, but it is really finding its niche.
I've started skipping Song For Someone more often, though. 
« Last Edit: October 21, 2014, 11:07:50 PM by ian ryan »

Offline U2-obsessed and proud

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Initially, it was the back half of the album that I was really digging.

Now, California and The Miracle have had a resurgence of sorts. Towards the top of my list for this album

Boy, is Songs Of Innocence is awesome or what? Lots of staying power with this record.

Offline mdmomof7

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Initially, it was the back half of the album that I was really digging.

Now, California and The Miracle have had a resurgence of sorts. Towards the top of my list for this album

Boy, is Songs Of Innocence is awesome or what? Lots of staying power with this record.

This is my current take too. These songs are incredible and as we hear them played live they grow and grow just like they did on the album!

How FANtastic is this? Too much, really!!

Offline boomchild

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Getting better every day.

Offline wraitii

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Those are some of their finest songs in terms of songwriting by a margin, something like Every Breaking Wave is miles ahead of whatever they did on ATYCLB or HTDAAB. Song for Someone, California and This is Where You Can Reach me Now are all solid for me, though not amazing.

Sleep Like a Baby Tonight is genius, the Alternate mix is pretty good too, and overall this song reminds me way too much of Pop for me to not love it.

The Troubles is not their greatest closer, but it's definitely not lackluster. Up there with "40", "Love is Blindess" and "Wake Up Dead Man". Probably the best song to get someone who doesn't like them into U2.

Raised By Wolves is kickass and I really like the album version for all its flaws. Iris has a cool bridge. I still very much like the spirit of Volcano and the album chorus.

I don't really care about Cedarwood road.

And I hate that they have released yet another "too good to be an album track" B-Side in Crystal Ballroom (among this VIP club stands Luminous Times, North and South of the River and Salomι)

Offline Albono

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Initially, it was the back half of the album that I was really digging.

Now, California and The Miracle have had a resurgence of sorts. Towards the top of my list for this album

Boy, is Songs Of Innocence is awesome or what? Lots of staying power with this record.

This is my current take too. These songs are incredible and as we hear them played live they grow and grow just like they did on the album!

How FANtastic is this? Too much, really!!

i see from your avatar that they are the latest cover boys for Rolling Stone!  8)

PookaMacP

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I don't get U2 tagged as dad-rock. That's kind of lazy and narrow-minded.

And really, if we must do this, they're mom-rock. I don't imagine they'd have patience for macho crap.

I agree that the 'Dad Rock' tag can be used in a way that is lazy and narrow-minded, and that it can be a substitute for 'macho crap' in conversation – but I don't agree that it is true in this case. My comment that Volcano, Cedarwood, etc, sound 'dad rock' is to make that term quite derogatory, and comes from the feeling that I get from those songs of 50-something-year-old men posturing in a way that ill befits their own intelligence. In essence, I think we agree: it's when they allow their more mature – and sensitive – side to show on this album that the songs have more emotion and more depth.

And before anyone accuses me of being ageist, I'm not saying that they should necessarily act their age and become all MOR – the innovative sounds on Raised By Wolves or The Troubles or Sleep Like A Baby or, indeed, This Is Where, could have been written by a band of any age, but it's their reflectiveness and their lyrical depth (both born of years of experience) that make them pack such a punch.

Offline THRILLHO

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i like it the same as i did then but i'd say SFS is my least favorite instead of Volcano at this point.

Offline keirdubois

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I don't get U2 tagged as dad-rock. That's kind of lazy and narrow-minded.

And really, if we must do this, they're mom-rock. I don't imagine they'd have patience for macho crap.

I agree that the 'Dad Rock' tag can be used in a way that is lazy and narrow-minded, and that it can be a substitute for 'macho crap' in conversation – but I don't agree that it is true in this case. My comment that Volcano, Cedarwood, etc, sound 'dad rock' is to make that term quite derogatory, and comes from the feeling that I get from those songs of 50-something-year-old men posturing in a way that ill befits their own intelligence. In essence, I think we agree: it's when they allow their more mature – and sensitive – side to show on this album that the songs have more emotion and more depth.

And before anyone accuses me of being ageist, I'm not saying that they should necessarily act their age and become all MOR – the innovative sounds on Raised By Wolves or The Troubles or Sleep Like A Baby or, indeed, This Is Where, could have been written by a band of any age, but it's their reflectiveness and their lyrical depth (both born of years of experience) that make them pack such a punch.

I'm sorry but I really don't perceive Volcano, Cedarwood etc to be down in the same ditch with dumb beasts like Elevation or Love & Peace, let alone the Pro-Tools-Frankenstein-monsters of Vertigo & Boots. There's nothing wrong with riff-rocking out over 50 either, and while there's posturing in both these tunes, it's there for a reason: frightened boys do that, which is one of the album's themes.

The lyrics aren't dumb, the themes are clear and the relatively acrobatic Volcano chorus melody in particular is something we haven't heard. If anything I identify Cedarwood with glammier stuff like HMTMKMKM. It struts and poses musically, sure, but the boyish observations in the lyrics are a nice counterpoint--just as any posturing 12-year-old would tell you if they realized their own silliness.

"Dad-rock" would be pure posturing, with nothing behind it, like some of the worse latter-day Stones stuff. That's so obviously not the case here which is why I used the word "lazy." In my mind, Vertigo and Boots and Elevation etc have that emptiness in bucket loads, but that's probably my own hangup and always has been. It won't stop the band from playing them live.

Furthermore, self-conscious maturity for its own sake is death in rock & roll. There's no bigger killjoy than some serious old bore up onstage stubbornly keeping himself above all the goofy contradictions inherent to his position.

So yes, while we do agree that our guys can be facepalm-dumb at times, I really don't see how that's the case with Volcano & Cedarwood. I also take Jeff Tweedy's attitude here: "well yeah, I'm a dad, and I still like to rock! What on earth is wrong with that?"

Offline keirdubois

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the boyish observations in the lyrics are a nice counterpoint

Actually I should correct this; the music is boyish, but the lyrics aren't. They're the mature, sensitive and nuanced perceptions of the man looking back. I really like the balanced contradiction of that idea. And yes, I also like how they flat-out rock.

Offline emuhunter

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Songs of Innocence is the first U2 album since ATYCLB that, a month in, I like more than I did on the first listen. I'm a relative latecomer to U2 (I was 11 when POP came out), but I was at just the right age to really obsess over a band, and that's what U2 was for me as a young teen. I made the intentional effort once I fell in love with POP and Rattle and Hum to go back to Boy and listen to each album by itself for a few weeks without "cheating ahead" and listening to the next one (I didn't have a lot of friends at that point of my life haha) so I feel like, in a way, I was able to give each album a little bit of its due and really spend time with it if that makes sense.

SOI is for me in that rare space with Achtung Baby, Joshua Tree, etc where the 20th+ listening to it has brought me more joy than the first one did.

Just my two cents  :)