U2: “The Miracle (of Joey Ramone)”

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U2
“The Miracle (of Joey Ramone)”
Rating: 3 stars out of 5

When U2 announced the release of their new album, Songs of Innocence, at an Apple press conference in Cupertino, California, the context surrounding it seemed to trump any actual music they had to offer. The album is being offered for free for one month, as a start — as an Apple exclusive no less. And its release is only one of several headline-worthy notable nuggets to be gleaned from the press event, which also included the introduction of a smart watch, and the discontinuation of the iPod classic. That last one was a bummer.

But U2 made the most of their appearance at Apple, performing new song “The Miracle (of Joey Ramone)”, a high-energy anthem built on a heavy, bouncing beat and an indelible melody, punctuated by “whooa-oohhh” vocal moans. In other words, it’s a U2 song. But more accurately, it’s an Arcade Fire song, overflowing with drama and bombast, and the sense that the song is too huge for its arrangement to contain it. That might not square with the song’s themes, which seem vaguely to do with Bono’s discovery of The Ramones as a youngster (“The most beautiful sound I’d ever heard,” he sings). Not that the song sounds anything like The Ramones, of course. But it’s a decent enough introduction to a new — free! — chapter in the band’s history, and one that hopefully breaks the cycle of U2 sounding too much like U2 for their own good.