By now you’ve read that you can download U2’s new album for free on iTunes until mid-October.
It’s a neat marketing trick.
For U2, it’s a way of staying relevant while Apple pays them an undisclosed fortune.
For Apple, they can immediately reconnect with their iTunes base as their new iPhones are scheduled to fly off the shelf.
So how is U2’s new album “Songs Of Innocence”?
Simply stated: It’s good, not great.
As with any album, this one works best early on.
Skip the first song The Miracle (Of Joey Ramone). You’ll be hearing it a lot in commercials, on stadium speakers and around the FM dial — but Miracle is repetitive and grows stale fast. This is more of a rhythmic Broadway show number than a tribute to an inspiring frontman of an iconic punk band.
It’s Tracks 2 through 5 that shine and announce that all is right in U2 land.
Track 2, Every Breaking Wave, is a dose of pop magic, a breezy sing-along.
Track 3, California (There Is No End To Love) almost falls into Beach Boy absurdity before shifting into a steady pop groove.
Track 4, Song For Someone, goes ballad-y, but the punchy tune builds, giving the audience enough time to break out lighters and wave them high.
Track 5, Iris (Hold Me Close) is a fan pleaser, shimmering U2 guitar licks and all.
Other reviewers dig the driving thump of later tunes such as Volcano, This Is Where You Can Reach Me, and The Troubles, but we think they’re a little too rattle and ho-hum.
Unfortunately, there’s not enough soaring signatures on this downloadable 11-track freebie to merit a four or five-star review.
Songs of Innocence is a nice surprise, but plays it way too safe and chaste.
We like that U2 refuses to quit, but in their later years, they still haven’t found what they’re looking for.
OUR RATING: Three-and-a-half out of five whistles