Wide Range. Cultural Focus. Editor Patrick Neithard
by Patrick Neithard on Headphones
I had to give this entry some real long thought. But yes. After several meetings with my higher self and a few trips down memory lane to the past century, yes, I stand by my choice: „It is announced with great pleasure that the band U2 has finally found an exercise room on September 9th, 2014.“
Congrats then, after all, your thirteenth?
Big was the „whoo!“ already when U2 performed „The Miracle (Of Joey Ramone)“ as a premiere at the Keynote Presentation of Apple last tuesday. Good thing one might say, as anything Apple convulves as its step by step evolution usually is responded by its obligatoire tribal vocation by the attendees, so there, yes, the public was definitely warmed up for the „whoo!“, (or awaiting a certain relief?) It was only a minute after the song when Apple`s Tim Cook and U2 Leadsinger Bono Vox announced that the album „Songs Of Innocence“ would be available to download for free from Apple’s iTunes Store. (And yes, it was also earlier this year when Beyoncé threw her Album „Beyoncé“ unannounced directly on iTunes.) So. Since then, U2`s eleven „Songs Of Innocence“ occurred in my „Purchased“ folder in iTunes, waiting to be streamed, downloaded or downright deleted. I have to admit, this kind of felt like I was getting forcefed, hence I needed some time to digest.
Desperation? Or just a new market strategy?
It`s an okay Album. While marketed in the iTunes Store as „U2`s thirteenth studio Album“ with „roots in the band`s early and lifelong influences such as the Ramones, Bob Dylan and the Clash“ (neglecting that it also bases on the book by William Blake predating to 1789, one finds on U2`s homepage) I was curious how „Sounds Of Innocence“, (but by the U2) would actually sound. Although it does not lack the U2 signature sound which I know since I fell in love with their „Where the Streets Have No Name“ or my again-brief-infatuation in „One“, it definitely lacks maturity. And that I have to say because it was U2 who thaught me 1984 that if you do not like the overall sound of a band, try to better understand their work by listening to their lyrics. Yet again, there was a war in music since 1984, caused by the electronic revolution which only a few survived. At the other end of the war, there were new musicians. Bands that have roots in U2.
So I was astonished to find the second song „Every Breaking Wave“. In its lyrics and in its intro string arrangement it leans shyly to the 1983 Police Song „Every Breath You Take“, but when it finally lifts off into the bridge I recalled quotes to Pop Starlet Belinda Carlisle (I wasn’t sure though, was it „Heaven Is A Place On Earth“ or „Circle In The Sand“, both though are deepest 1980ties). Additionally, it is not the only song which recalls Coldplay all over. Am I making a point here? What it really intends to describe though is the lift-off of U2`s career when moving out of Dublin, coming in for their first landing in California, topic of the third song as well. And that really is obnoxiuous as ever. „California (There Is No End To Love)“ enters the minefield with a slowed-down cover of the Beach Boys 1964 number „I get around“. I sorta knew I won`t be fooled again. Okay, the guitar surfs, I can even imagine Bono surfing, just now with that Belinda Carlisle – Pop touch with which I am starting to filter-photoshop my faith in this band. If it is marketing, it might be one thing, but if you want to sell me old whine in new bottles, you just have to know how to do it. Certainly not with choirs that feel „desperately sought for“ rather than „fell onto the geniuses vocal chords“.
Is there any help?
There may be. If you are still willing to mistake „Innocence“ with faithful youth aka Rock as, duh, rebelling against structure, (even if it is your own band and therefore business-as-usual..) there it is again, U2 and Bono, still that schism just like in the past. It was ten years ago when one recalls Bono himself calling their 2004 Album „How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb“ „fucking annoying“. Anyhow. While with „Iris“, Bono besings his mother „ Hold Me Close, I got Your Life Inside Me“ and later „Free yourself to be yourself“ I do feel that help is coming its way, if only my audiovisual vocabulary had not been overfed already by the in-and-out-run-of-the-mill choruses of the past decades of electronica. So maybe instead of help, there might be hope. Yes. There is. „Volcano“ is – instead of another downfall – an upbeat song. Then again, it is just so because you just relax from the precedent tension. I have seen way too many Talent Shows ( Swiss might wanna call it „Casting Shows“) so as a jury, I give him the high falsett sung bridge because it is the only promise of the album about his innocence. Women may still feel shivers, men, for a change, may compare falsett heights at one of the future concerts. But when a Yello-ish („The Race“) concoction features off the seventh song „Raised by Wolves“, okay, even I have to admit that mixing it with arrangements from the Faith No More-ish hardcore Punk „Cafeine“ (1992) I really felt stunned that they had have to dig deep into music history to find it, to once have liked it, to have admired it. You can hammer things like a smith, and you should hammer it as long as the iron`s hot. Taking it just into another curve, swirl it a bit differently just seems to be not the concept for a once well aknowledged band. Not if it is U2. There is that line in these lyrics called „If I open my eyes, you disappear.“
So. Has U2 found an Exercise Room? Indeed. „Cedarwood Road“ lets them all bluff off, Bono laments his song over the rocky melody, and „Sleep like A Baby Tonight“ is just a song even my mother is gonna listen when she at her remarkable over 60 swings herself on the socius to take that one more ride with her soulmate over the alps. What they both have in common, that, and that song, is that feeling of „c`mon babe, one more time! It was fun, right?“ A last „One, Two!, Three!! Four!!!“ gasped by an aging Sex Symbol does not close the curtain at the tryin’-to-be-fulminant end of an album. But it sure is the highest meaning of „This Is where You can Reach Me Now“. If I were a true fan, I`d have to say Let`s hope not.
U2. Songs Of Innocence. 2014, Island Records
And in your iTunes Purchased folder