Monday, March 26, 2012


Wow, where did eleven years go?  That's how long it's been between albums for The Cranberries, a band that had almost given up any thoughts of reforming.  But it turns out they weren't sick of themselves, they were very, very tired of superstar culture, and who can blame them.  Lead singer Dolores O'Riordan settled into relative calm, living north of Toronto with her Canadian husband, raising three kids and two solo albums.

An invitation to the band to work with her on gigs after the 2nd solo led to a full-blown reunion tour a couple of years back, and now, after figuring out how to deal with it all, the band is completely back with this new album.  The Cranberries always stand out, and that's mostly due to O'Riordan's voice.  Her thick Irish accent is always there, her breathy vocals, often in double-tracked harmony, bring a huge amount of intimacy, and since many of the songs are about romantic tension, well, it's all a potent mix.  Original producer of the early big hits, Stephen Street (The Smiths, Blur) is also back, to give it that ringing, rich Britpop shine.

All that ear candy hides some relatively mundane lyrics, and too many melodramatic love songs.  For instance:  "Life is no garden of roses/More like a thistle in time."  Huh?  A cliche and a conundrum.  And in the same song, we get "Life IS a garden of roses/Roses just whither and die."  So which is it, Ms. Metaphor?  And everything is so serious.  Here are some random words from the O'Riordan lyric sheets:  Fire, grave, broken glass, asunder, empty, lonely, cold, die.  Geez, just add vampires, and you've got a hit movie for teens.  But..and it's a big but...  when they come out of that singer, with that voice, and those arrangements, with that gravitas. everyone of those words sounds important.  Throw the booklet away, listen to the sounds and not the words, and you have what makes The Cranberries different.

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