Review Summary: A microcosm of their entire career.
Food for thought: The Cranberries’ current claim to being mainstays of modern radio alt rock is still the same one that they had eighteen years ago. That’s not half as damning as it sounds – any band which spends the first third of their career preparing to release "Zombie" to the world deserves to be handed a complimentary round of Guinness each time they walk into a pub. But while “Zombie” has proven itself to be a timeless classic, the rest of The Cranberries’ discography has rarely exuded the same air of artistic vision and clarity. So even though the four-piece have, on occasion, shown glimpses of rescaling those same old peaks of 1916 – most recently on the riveting “Animal Instinct” and 2001’s "Analyse" – they have often found themselves lacking the discipline and industrial panache to make the subsequent record anything more than fitfully entertaining.
It has been a full eleven years since their last studio record (2001’s Wake Up and Smell the Coffee
) was released, but Roses
makes it very clear – very quickly – that precious little has changed since then. The album sees the Irish four-piece continuing to ply their trade on the softer end of the alt rock spectrum: dreamy sketches, jangly guitar parts, and light electronica waffle dominate proceedings, to the point that the two relatively upbeat numbers placed onboard – lead single “Tomorrow” and the coy, almost-sardonic “Schizophrenic Playboy” – seem conspicuously out of place. Elsewhere, care has also been given to bring out the atmospherics on each song as well, causing each piece to flow from one to another in a graceful, languid way – almost as if track changes were something embarrassing and worth hiding.
On a whole, it isn't a bad thing, really, since it gives the album some coherence. Plus, Dolores O’Riordan still has that knack for making her hooks stick in your head with those pipes of hers, which don’t appear to have aged a single jot since we last heard them. Legitimately mediocre pieces are few and far in between (well, perhaps with the exception of the closing pair of “So Good” and “Roses”, which make for the most deflating landing experience this side of the Hindenburg), but some parts – like the empowering stomp towards the end of album opener "Conduct", or the absolutely superb choral refrain contained in “Losing My Mind” – will stand out more easily than others. Much like The Cranberries’ entire career, Roses
is hardly earth-shattering as a whole, but it is constructed well-enough to earn its few cursory rounds on the airwaves and retire with dignity. Further down the line, time may reveal that those moments may be better enjoyed in isolation, which is frankly just fine – as that’s how we’ve always approached The Cranberries anyway.