When talking about strange album covers, it wouldn't be very appropriate to leave out the album art of The Cranberries' fourth album, Bury the Hatchet. Just look at it, it features a giant eye fixed upon a poor little man who does not seem to enjoy being stared at. Seems kind of stupid at first, no? But the cover is a very appropriate one for the band, at least at this stage of their career. You see, after three very successful albums, the Irish alt rock band got pretty big. Too big for the foursome to handle. After a good 3 years of non-stop touring, recording, and other band related exploits, the band was totally burnt out. The pressure created from such a busy, hectic lifestyle, had taken its toll on the young band. Kind of like the intimidating stare of the giant eye has driven the man mental on the cover. So Delores, Noel, Mike, and Fergal decided to put all Cranberries operations on hold for an indefinite period of time. It would be three years before the follow up to 1996's To the Faithfully Departed. But in April of '99, Bury the Hatchet would finally be released. As it past albums had done, the new release charted very high in several countries. But similarly to their last album, The Cranberries once again received some pretty negative reviews. Again, similarly to their last album, I find that this particular effort, while perhaps not as great as some of the bands other releases, is a lot better than some claim.
Though the music found on Bury the Hatchet is still rooted firmly in that of alternative rock, the atmosphere is different from that which was found on To the Faithfully Departed or Wake Up and Smell the Coffee. The drummer, Fergal Lawler once said, "It felt like when we first started out as a band together. There was a real freshness and happiness that hadn't been there for a long time." It shows in the music. Of course there are still songs such as Copycat or Delilah, fast paced songs in the familiar Cranberries mould, but for the most part the band remains in that of mellow rock. Songs like Just My Imagination, Saving Grace, and Shattered display the relaxing writing style that main song writers Dolores O' Riordan and Noel Hogan employ throughout the album. Though pretty simplistic in terms of structure, many of the songs provide listeners with an enjoyable 3-4 minutes worth of music. Those who've enjoyed past albums from The Cranberries shouldn't have too many qualms with the music on this release, as it presents a similar take on past efforts while sounding fresh and new all the same.
The actual songs found on Bury the Hatchet, however, vary in terms of quality. On one hand, you have excellent cuts which include the likes of the blistering singe Promises; the upbeat Loud and Clear; Just My Imagination, a softer song which reminds me of the band's No Need to Argue album; and the laidback Shattered. All of these songs are impressive and could have been found on any of the other Cranberries releases without looking out of place. But on the other hand, you also have several weaker songs. The second single, Animal Instinct, opens the album on a low note. Surprisingly, the weakest link of this track is the band's frontwoman, Dolores, whose vocal lines and lyrics are quite cringe-worthy and not up to par. Other tracks like Saving Grace and Fee Fi Fo suffer a similar fate and feel more like filler tracks than anything else. These tracks just don't have the ability to captivate listeners as some of the others can. Which is too bad, really.
To date, Bury the Hatchet has sold over 3.3 million copies. Despite this, it is often considered to be one of the band's lesser albums. I'm not going to argue that, because I too feel that it's not as strong as Wake Up and Smell the Coffee or No Need to Argue. However, it isn't a bad album by any means. The band's fourth album contains some classic Cranberries songs such as Promises or You and Me, songs which those who have followed the band at any point in time should enjoy. The short break that the band took seems to have worked out quite well, as the material sounds fresh and laidback, kind of like it was on earlier albums. Bury the Hatchet would not be the first album I would recommend from this band, but it is still a very worthwhile purchase if you want to delve deeper into The Cranberries' music.
Loud and Clear
Just My Imagination
You and Me