'More than any U2 album before it, Songs of Innocence goes deep into Bono and the rest of band members' teenage years in Dublin in the Seventies. The first song captures the big bang of Bono's musical awakening: the first time he heard the Ramones. "Everything I've ever lost now has been returned," Bono sings. "The most beautiful sound I ever heard…We were pilgrims on our way."'
'With occasional exceptions, Bono’s vocals are well to the fore throughout; Edge piles on the big chords and twangs brilliantly where appropriate; and in the engine room, Larry and Adam anchor things powerfully, giving U2 their unique centre of gravity.‘California (There is no End to Love)’ is a certain single: starting with an almost religious choral vocal, it is the most West Coast the band have ever sounded. There is a sense of rapture which marks it as a special moment in the U2 pantheon of great tracks.‘Volcano’ is a monster: the album’s ‘Elevation’, it's a ball buster of a riff-based anthem that opens with a full-on Stranglers’ style bassline from Adam. Packed with raw, meaty guitar slashes and psychedelic, swelling backing vocals, it is another near-certain centre-piece for their live set....'
'The method of distribution will dominate the initial chatter about the album for a few days, but once people have had a chance to listen to Songs of Innocence a few times and digest it, they'll discover a substantive album that harks back to the band's earliest days, most musically and lyrically...'
'It is an album of big, colourful, attacking rock with fluid melodies, bright anthemic choruses and bold lyrical ideas. Perhaps the most surprising thing is that, despite apparently being created in a spirit of self-doubt, it sounds fresh and cohesive, bouncing out of the speakers with a youthful spring in its step....'
"California (There is No End to Love)," a song about the band's first trip to Los Angeles, is a modern take on The Beach Boys with a hallucinatory opening consisting of the band chanting "Barbara Barbara Barbara Santa Barbara" in the round before launching into one of those trademark power ballads that feel like a jet plane racing to the horizon....'
'This Is Where You Can Reach Me" is a kind of howling, skanking disco-punk homage to the Clash...'
'The 11 tracks look back to the band’s musical roots in the punk and post-punk era, paying explicit homage to the Ramones and the Clash, and carrying resonances of later genres and bands, not least the many groups such as Arcade Fire and Coldplay that flourished by tapping into their influence.'
"The music on Songs of Innocence doesn’t hark back to the open spaces of early U2; it exults in multitrack possibilities. But it connects emotionally to a time when, as Bono sings in 'The Miracle (of Joey Ramone),' “I wanted to be the melody/Above the noise, above the hurt/I was young/Not dumb.”
New York Times