Retro Modern “Modern” Pick: The Cranberries – Something Else (Album)
Introduction: The Cranberries are an Irish rock band that formed in Limerick in 1989. Their roster is comprised of Dolores O’Riordan (vocals, rhythm guitar), Fergal Lawler (drums) and brothers Mike (bass guitar) and Noel Hogan (lead guitar).
The Cranberries issued their first single “Dreams” in the fall of 1992 ahead of its parent record, Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We? (Island) which followed in early 1993. The record went on to massive commercial and critical success. The band’s rock technique possessed a softer, melodic underpinning that played as a soothing opposite to the dominant grunge aesthetic of the early 1990s.
The Cranberries released four more albums between 1994 to 2001 before embarking on a hiatus; they returned in 2012 with their sixth LP, Roses (Cooking Vinyl). The Cranberries have recently moved forward with their seventh album, Something Else, released in the spring of 2017.
Synopsis: When The Cranberries resumed active duty in 2012 with Roses, it had been exactly 20 years since the release of their debut hit “Dreams.” The band members kept busy during their self-imposed break that began in 2002, each of them returning to their personal lives and embarking on other professional ventures. Specifically, O’Riordan produced two solo projects in that span of time ― Are You Listening? (2007, Sanctuary) and No Baggage (2009, Cooking Vinyl).
Roses was emblematic of The Cranberries coming back to their “roots,” as the records they had recorded together between 1996 to 2001 saw The Cranberries rework their expressive approach to rock and roll with more crank and muscle. That LP was fairly well-received, even if the band was past their commercial prime. Released April 28, 2017, Something Else (BMG) continues on the path of artistic affirmation that Roses laid.
There are 13 songs collected for the set, 10 of them covers of established material pulled from their first five records. “The Glory,” “Rupture” and “Why” are the new works, with “The Glory” being the plush, if anachronistic classic of the trio. The remainder of the recast music is rendered through a diaphanous acoustic-to-orchestral sound path, courtesy of a string quartet from the Irish Chamber Orchestra. The Hogans and Lawler function as a band swimmingly, their playing tight, restrained and complementary to the ICO string quartet’s stated direction. This puts the emphasis on the arrangement infrastructure, evidence of how well the songs have held up in the ensuing years since their creation.
O’Riordan’s voice is as delicate and sincere as it ever was on these new versions of “Linger,” “Animal Instinct,” and the previously discussed new recording, “The Glory.” O’Riordan’s singing, with a bit of hindsight for assistance, even manages to bring a sense of timeliness to the lyrical context of the band’s songs. Some critics haughtily sniffed at their songwriting as being overtly sentimental and simple at the group’s height of popularity. Given the current social and political cacophony of the modern world, their straightforward lyrical style cuts through that noise ― it’s refreshing versus cloying in 2017.
Something Else isn’t about reinvention in the purest sense, but reimagination. It shows that The Cranberries are willing (and able) to retrofit their formidable canon, and that’s not something every recording act is capable of 25 years into their career.
Something Else available via Amazon