U2 released new album without prior notice. Last time it was happened when Beyoncé's released her fifth studio album without warning on iTunes last year.
U2 goes a step further and releasing its album for free on iTunes, in any case, up to 13 October, when Apple starts charging for downloads. Then the album will also like CD and vinyl with extra tracks.
From a marketing perspective, it is an almost commercial arrangement that the 1970s would be unthinkable today but that does not upset anyone. The parties already have a close relationship so when U2 yesterday came on stage after Apple CEO Tim Cook unveiled the iPhone 6 and Apple Watch, it was to reinforce the coveted synergy they work so hard on.
The question is how smart it is. Both U2 and Apple have their heyday behind them which may mean that the sum of their efforts did not really become the target. Maybe even the opposite.
I will not go into in to review the new Apple products that were presented but probably feels mobile and watch more exciting than the eleven songs that Bono and the gang wrote and composed for their thirteenth studio album, the first since the 2009 "No Line on the Horizon ".
Bono has stated that it is a deeply personal album, but it is, as we all know, no guarantee that it will be engaging and well. Bono sings about adolescence, about longing for the mother and the bombs on Dublin's streets. Several of the songs are devoted by band that touched them: Ramones, Beach Boys, The Clash. None of the songs are particularly close inspirers, possibly the hideous Clash song, which incidentally is one of the most weak on the whole album, and in "California (There is no end to love)" nicked it initially to the Beach Boys "Barbara Ann" . "Every Breaking Wave" has to my knowledge none of Police to do but sounds like "Every Breath You Take" in the verses.
The production is made by Danger Mouse, Paul Epworth, Ryan Tedder, Declan Gaffney and Flood. None of them have made any major impact: Bono sings equally masculine moaning as always, The Edge out guitar chords and the rhythm section is steady dull.
The album's exclamation, also the best track is the album closer "The Troubles". It's a relief to hear Lykke Li singing and suddenly something that may resemble a discernible melody out of the speakers (or should we say the headphones, this is the album that will be listened to most of the cell phone). Danger Mouse has opened the doors and let in some air into production, and it feels like Bono took off his sunglasses and everyone sits down in the studio.