Published in the Hindu Metroplus/Sunday Magazine in April 2012.
The Cranberries – Roses
Cooking Vinyl/Virgin Records
A five-year hiatus, a couple of solo albums and countless compilation albums later, The Cranberries finally decided to reunite and get back into the studio. Apparently, a lot of the song ideas they had for the follow-up to ‘Wake Up and Smell the Coffee’ have found a place on their first release in a decade, simply titled ‘Roses’.
You can definitely hear those carried on ideas, because a good number of songs on this album seem to belong to another era, when ‘alternative rock’ fans had different expectations. As soon as we hear Dolores O’Riordan’s vocals on album opener ‘Conduct’, you would think you were being transported back in time.
There’s more of that with the uplifting tracks such as ‘Tomorrow’, which is classic jangle pop about being young and foolish; in short, the usual themes. Anyone who would be excited enough to hear the Irish band’s new material wouldn’t care even if it was more of the same old thing. The album progresses without anything too remarkable till ‘Schizophrenic Playboy’ comes on. Incredibly catchy with guitarist Noel Hogan’s strumming away set to some interesting string section arrangements. The chorus on this song is certainly one that sticks.
The string section stays on for the next track ‘Waiting in Walthamstow’, with O’Riordan whispering darkly over some essentially folk rock beats. ‘Show Me’ is another pop rock song following the lead of the previous tracks with strong, catchy choruses. ‘Astral Projections’ can best be described as dream pop, while the O’Riordan moves on to dealing with clichéd topics in the last two tracks set to similarly slow-rock settings.
‘So Good’ opens with the vocalist posing the question “Have you ever had an empty heart?” which would almost make anyone reach for the skip button. But then again, this is the Cranberries. The vocals match the haunting, yet somewhat atmospheric sound. The self-titled track ‘Roses’ starts with “Life is no garden of roses”, with a lingering rhythm to confirm the reflective tone the album closes with.
It is very unlikely that The Cranberries will be attracting any newer fans with this album; but surely, if ‘Zombie’ led to gaining a religious fan-following, this album will be an absolute delight. They have clearly stopped caring about the days they were branded as a one-hit wonder. On ‘Roses’, there is enough originality in song writing and performance that rebukes the unnecessary tag.