by U2
Metascore
64

Generally favorable reviews - based on 32 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 13 out of 32
  2. Negative: 3 out of 32
Buy On
  1. Sep 11, 2014
    100
    U2's first studio album in five years--is a triumph of dynamic, focused renaissance.
  2. Sep 10, 2014
    90
    The result is their best and most thematically complete album since Achtung Baby. By turning towards their past, U2 have found their way back to the future. [Nov 2014, p.88]
  3. Q Magazine
    Oct 3, 2014
    80
    Some veteran rock stars write a memoir in order to make sense of their origins; Bono has chosen to sing one. From this autobiographical precision all the album's strengths flow. [Nov 2014, p.100]
  4. Songs of Innocence is a great record. Not a perfect one, mind you: for one thing, Danger Mouse, the record’s primary producer, uses a few too many of his tired stock tricks along the way, making the record sound more generic than it would with Brian Eno behind the boards.
  5. Sep 12, 2014
    80
    The fact remains that Songs of Innocence ultimately feels like a crucial upswing in U2’s discography, especially since it comes at such a late stage in their careers.
  6. Sep 10, 2014
    80
    Yes, it’s big and shiny and sometimes bombastic, but it also takes chances and pushes forward the band’s legacy.
  7. Sep 10, 2014
    80
    The album is a blast of discoveries, hopes, losses, fears and newfound resolve in lyrics that are openly autobiographical. It’s also a blast of unapologetic arena rock and cathedral-scale production, equally gigantic and detailed, in the music that carries them.
  8. Sep 10, 2014
    80
    Songs of Innocence is a colossal-sounding record from rock's ultimate stadium wreckers, and a quick listen reveals why no other marketing strategy would have worked.
  9. Sep 10, 2014
    80
    At times it does sound like it is trying a bit too hard to please. But it's more pop than Pop ever was, and it certainly does the job it apparently sets out to do, delivering addictive pop rock with hooks, energy, substance and ideas that linger in the mind after you’ve heard them.
  10. Sep 16, 2014
    79
    Once the controls for the album are ceded (mostly) to Danger Mouse, the album really starts to cook. The last five songs are the best batch of material U2 have played a part in for a decade, at least.
  11. 75
    This is no disaster, nor is it a masterpiece. Songs of Innocence is a competent U2 album, always a good thing.
  12. Sep 12, 2014
    75
    Things get more interesting in the album’s second half, when U2 ditch the tasteful anthems in favor of bolder influences and outré detours.
  13. Sep 10, 2014
    70
    Instead of a triumphant return to form, then, Innocence is more of a satisfying side conversation, a familiar face coming round to the back door and whiling the time away nicely till dark or dawn
  14. Uncut
    Nov 11, 2014
    60
    Things get increasingly glum and disenchanted as the album grinds towards the cop-out of "The Troubles." [Dec 2014, p.81]
  15. Oct 3, 2014
    60
    They want to be everything to everyone and, in attempting to do so, they've wound up with a record that appeals to a narrow audience: fellow travelers who either thrill at the spectacle or dig for the subtleties buried underneath the digital din.
  16. Sep 10, 2014
    60
    From the nails-on-a-chalkboard solo of "Sleep Like a Baby Tonight" to the whining guitar strains of "Every Breaking Wave," the Edge's melodies and atmospheric licks are the real star of the album, which is otherwise marred by the kind of slick MOR pablum that plagued the band's last few efforts.
  17. It's an album where the rich embroidery overshadows the essential garment. Details impress but the overall picture never quite comes together.
  18. 60
    Despite the involvement of producer Danger Mouse, the more experimental leanings of albums like Achtung Baby and Zooropa have been abandoned in favour of the all-too-familiar blend of vaunting, declamatory vocals and juddering guitar riffs; but sadly, that knack for irresistible pop hooks with which Danger Mouse helped hoist The Black Keys to superstar status is almost entirely absent here, restricted to just an occasional keyboard counter-melody like that on "California (There Is No End To Love)".
  19. Sep 10, 2014
    60
    As a free sample, it’s fine: it has its moments among the longeurs, enough of them to suggest U2 aren’t a spent force. But what Songs of Innocence isn’t is the grand return the band obviously crave.
  20. 58
    It’s a mixed bag, but an overall pleasant and inoffensive one.
  21. Sep 15, 2014
    50
    Songs of Innocence comes off as flat and strangely complacent, even as it pays lip service to youthful inspiration, notably the punk and post-punk of the late '70s.
  22. Sep 15, 2014
    50
    A majority of Songs of Innocence shows the band fumbling around with current chart trends, settling for melodies and lyrics that are simply “good enough,” and generally making moves that reek of desperation instead of confidence, a stance that is very ill-fitting of U2.
  23. Sep 10, 2014
    50
    Don't expect a record as breathtaking as U2 at its best. Rather, this is average-grade stuff with a couple essential songs.
  24. Sep 12, 2014
    46
    Bono may have self-deprecatingly described Songs of Innocence as “the blood, sweat and tears of some Irish guys...in your junk mail,” but it’s not even that interesting--it’s just a blank message.
  25. Sep 25, 2014
    40
    Where the singer's awkward earnestness yielded rock & roll poetry through the band's storied odyssey--Emerald Isle exodus (Boy) full circle to paterfamilias (All That You Can't Leave Behind)--his world leader pretend profile here matches Horizon by yielding only self-conscious gobbledygook.
  26. Sep 15, 2014
    40
    Perhaps it’s the poor choice of producer in Danger Mouse, perhaps it’s the band losing their nerve, but the whole thing feels bound by a laboured tastefulness.
  27. Sep 15, 2014
    40
    While Songs of Innocence is more succinct, glossy and nimble than recent U2 outings, there is very little of the rawness, directness or spontaneity of youth to it--and precious little innocence.
  28. Sep 12, 2014
    40
    If U2 was ever cool or exciting, that spark has been absent for a good 20 years, and with Songs of Innocence, they've never sounded so ordinary or cloying.
  29. 40
    [Songs Of Innocence] has only a handful of standouts.... This is a serious mis-step that might win a week's worth of good publicity, but could foreshadow a year's worth of bad.
  30. Sep 11, 2014
    35
    It's not that the songs on here are necessarily terrible; certainly there's nothing to plumb the depths of "Elevation" or "Get on your Boots," but rather that Songs of Innocence is a soulless and unwanted lump of shiny plastic.
  31. Classic Rock Magazine
    Dec 17, 2014
    30
    Songs Of Innocence is stricken with lethargy, with a level of aspiration that extends as far as Coldplay and never explores further. [Nov 2014, p.93]
  32. Sep 15, 2014
    30
    It is impeccably produced and sheened, but it sounds polished to the extent of being soulless.
User Score
7.6

Generally favorable reviews- based on 282 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 30 out of 282
  1. Sep 10, 2014
    0
    Simply horrible. I was took by surprise when I saw that their album was a part of my music on my iPhone. I decided to give it a try and ISimply horrible. I was took by surprise when I saw that their album was a part of my music on my iPhone. I decided to give it a try and I found myself not recognizing U2. It almost seems like they accepted this deal with Apple because they know that the album sucked.
    Super Disappointing.
    Full Review »
  2. Sep 10, 2014
    10
    This review contains spoilers, click full review link to view. Excellent album. A poignantly beautiful collection of cohesive songs - which is a pleasant surprise. Haters will always be there. No point worrying over their drivel Full Review »
  3. Sep 10, 2014
    10
    If you don't get U2 you probably won't get most of this album. It has a few obviously good songs that can be enjoyed by all, but you reallyIf you don't get U2 you probably won't get most of this album. It has a few obviously good songs that can be enjoyed by all, but you really have to understand the band to get the whole album. Songs of Innocence is reflective of the band's (specifically Bono it seems) early days finding themselves, finding a place in the world, living first experiences, and love. It has a followup "sister" album coming called Songs of Experience which will likely create a full circle and possibly a final album release. Full Review »