With a career spanning many decades, it may be of little surprise to learn that Irish legends U2 are back (again), this time with an album exclusively available, for free, on itunes. It’s rather fitting, considering their own lengthy career, therefore that their opening number sounds very much like the band name-checked in the title ‘The Miracle Of (Joey Ramone)’; both are considered icons of the industry. The song itself is a little simple, and certainly nothing special, but catchy enough to get toes tapping, and minds intrigued as to what will follow.
‘Every Breaking Wave’ is better in terms of the laid back musicianship allowing Bono’s unmistakable voice to really shine, while the words ‘If you go’ just beg to be sung back to the band at a live show. Church bells chiming introduce ‘California (There is no End to Love’) while the semi-chanting it opens with might be somewhat irritating to some listeners, though fortunately, by the time the guitars kick in, the track picks up dramatically.
The slowest number on the album so far, ‘Song for Someone’ is the first real ballad style song on this new collection, and though there is little to mark it down on, it is a little dull in comparison to the earlier numbers. Fortunately, things get a little better with the arrival of ‘Iris (Hold Me Close’) and although it’s certainly not as good as the the Goo Goo Dolls classic of the same name, it certainly isn’t the worst number, though it does go on a little longer than necessary, coming in at just over five minutes.
‘Volcano’ marks a vast improvement, from the moment the guitars strike up, but the song still struggles against the strength of the bands’ past material, but ‘Raised By Wolves’, despite being lyrically basic, comes somewhat close, mostly thanks to the tight musicianship presented throughout it. The albums’ best piece comes via ‘Cedarwood Road’ – it’s rocky, upbeat and pure U2 at their best. Live this song is bound to get everyone on their feet and singing along, if not waving their arms in their air; it’s that good – almost anthemic.
It’s a shame therefore that the strength of the music doesn’t continue through to ‘Sleep Like a Baby Tonight’ – another five minute piece of which the opening 60 seconds and the verses that follow on are dull enough to potentially put people to sleep. As the album draws to a close, it’s almost as if the band make a valiant attempt to rescue the collection, and they, for the majority, succeed. ‘This Is Where You Can Reach Me Now’ is a catchy little ditty; again far from anything special, but certainly much better than some of the other numbers on the album. Ending with ‘The Troubles’, the group return to their slower style and, being oddly uplifting and inspiring, with a guest female vocal, it lingers with you long after the final note has played out.