The only thing more offensive than the presumption of U2 in teaming up with a tax-dodging, child-labour employing, tech giant to deliver a record that nobody really wanted into every single iTunes library is their shameless co-option English poet William Blake’s words to title said record.
Blake’s famous collection evokes a mythical, pre-fall England unmarred by the sins of the world and most importantly, the church, which Blake felt had corrupted the true spirit of God. In their thirty year career U2 have purposefully sided with every hegemonic overload who would have them; lending some cultural cred to war criminals (George W Bush), corrupt institutions (The Vatican) and tax evading corporations (the aforementioned Apple). But even these misguided proclamations could be partially forgiven if the music held up. Ever since Achtung Baby, U2 have never exactly been protean but for all Bono’s talk of a return to their roots, Songs of Innocence is U2 at their blandest.
‘The Miracle (of Joey Ramone)’ sees Bono “chasing down a dream before it disappears”, a cliché so hackneyed you can hear professional songwriters clicking a round into the breach. It’s lazy, boring, predictable and over-emoted by a man whose last genuine contribution to music pre-dates New Labour. To quote WB Yeats, “The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity”.
It’s a record by people who don’t love music, for people who don’t love music.
[Max Sefton – @MaxSefton]