I find it interesting that U2 is credited for writing all of the music for this album with Bono and The Edge credited for writing all of the lyrics. The reason I find this interesting is that they worked with an awful lot of song-writers on this album. Namely, Ryan Tedder, Danger Mouse, Paul Epworth and Flood. Although I generally dislike everything Ryan Tedder does, I wouldn’t blame U2 if they wrote with the others I’ve just named. Sometimes, in order to grow as artists, you need to kick some ideas around with other people. You don’t need to collaborate with big-time hit-makers like Maroon 5, but I see no problem in writing with Danger Mouse and Paul Epworth. Those guys are artists who make music for the love of it. I just find it odd that there are all these songwriters working with them but none of them are given credit for so much as co-writing a song. I find it impossible to believe that U2 had these cats around and didn’t receive any ideas from them. I mean, you play those guys your songs and they’re going to have suggestions about improving them and such. But I suppose Bono wants to give the world the impression that they’re writing all of the songs rather than admit that they had help with this record. (This is just my theory though. Obviously, I can’t say for certain that it happened like that. I just think that it did.) Another thing that bugs me here is how they and Apple exploited the automatic downloads feature on iTunes and iPhones to put the album on people’s PCs and phones without their consent. That just seems wrong. And I sure hope that these copies of the album that they forced on people don’t count toward any album charts. You can’t view something you forced on someone like a sale.
A friend told me that, in his opinion, the reason U2 gave this album away was because they knew it wouldn’t sell well. And I suspect that might be one of their reasons. I do believe that they intended for the album to be a gift, that they thought they were doing a good thing by making it magically appear on people’s computers and phones. But there had to be other factors in making that decision and not having any potential hit singles would certainly have factored in. That being said, I actually think that it’s a fantastic album. I don’t hear any massive songs that could dominate today’s pop radio, but I think that’s a good thing. I like albums that you have to listen to from start to finish in order to “get it.” I’d rather have an album as a whole be a great listen than have two awesome singles and loads of lame filler. I wouldn’t say that there’s much filler on this album. Each of these songs are interesting on their own, but played in the context of the album they’re downright awesome. If I have to name favorites, I’ll go with “California (There Is No End to Love),” “Volcano” and “The Troubles,” the latter of which is a subtle song that features the insanely talented Lykke Li. I also quite like the production of the album. Its primary producer is Danger Mouse and you can hear his little touches here and there throughout the record and they’re charming. If you like his project Broken Bells then you’d likely enjoy this album. Some of the songs are very Broken Bells-ish, which is marvelous. Ultimately, I think this is one of U2’s best albums. I might not like how they distributed it, but I’m certainly enjoying the hell out of it.