There are some sounds that immediately recall another time in one's life. I was at the height of my College Radio DJ career when THE CRANBERRIES hit the big time. "Dreams" and "Linger" came along right during the grunge heatwave and provided a respite for those of us who, although adorned in flannel, occasionally preferred less shouting from our music. The combination of Dolores O'Riordan was the spitting image of an Irish pixie with enough vocal chops take on Sinead O'Conner without all the melodrama. The Cranberries exploded with their first record and the subesequent follow up. Then they were gone. It's not that they stopped making records, it just that the public got tired and moved on. Such is the fickle world of pop music. But their sound has always had a warm place in my heart. If THE SUNDAYS took THE SMITHS sound and feminized it, then the Cranberries gave it an Irish brogue and mixed in a heathly dose of U2.
Now O'Riodan and her troop have released a new record entitled "Roses" and damn it all if it isn't really good. They have in no way reinvented their sound, in fact it could almost pass for a rehashing of their first record. Gone is the hard rock attempts like "Zombie" or "Hollywood" settling for mid level pop songs. "Tomorrow" opens with a Bono esque hoot before finding a jangly guitar line and riding it to pop bliss. "Fire and Soul" finds O'Riordan whispering her lyrics to her love as she then soars into the chorus of "I'll wait for you forever, I'll take you to my grave". "Losing My Mind" floats on a singular horn before exploding into a anthemic take on overcoming mental fragility. This is a set of songs about triumph over obstacles. It seems O'Riordan still has some fight left in that voice after all. The band has oftened dabbled in darker tones later in their albums and such is the case with the driving "Show Me The Way", which is the closest thing on this album to a harder edged song. The acoustic "Roses" closes the set with a quiet eulogy rather than a triumphant statement.
I really hope this record is taken seriously and gets some play on its merits. It's a really good album from a collection of musicians who know what they are doing. Take my recommendation and step into that time machine for a return from an accomplished band.