Life was but a dream for Irish alternative rock band The Cranberries. Their first three albums sold millions of copies, generally got plenty of praise, and their hits got plenty of air time. But then, in 1999, the band released its fourth album, Bury the Hatchet, and all the magic seemed to disappear. Despite reaching #7 in the UK and #13 in the US, Bury the Hatchet received many negative reviews, and many wondered what had happened to the band. In 2001, The Cranberries returned to the studio once more and recorded Wake Up and Smell the Coffee, the band's 5th and so far last album. Despite being their least successful album in sales, it managed to achieve the positive feed back that Bury the Hatchet didn't quite receive.
Wake Up and Smell the Coffee is fairly similar to The Cranberries' older albums. Though they're definitely a mellow band, The Cranberries spend much of the album switching through a variety of more rock-like, upbeat tracks, to softer ballads. Yeah, musically it isn't quite different from No Need to Argue. But somehow, the music still sounds fresh and natural. Songs like This is the Day, Time is Ticking Out, and Wake Up and Smell the Coffee are simple tracks musically, through their driving rhythms they create an engaging atmosphere that could be enjoyed by all. Though there are no Zombie or Hollywood-esque tracks, the album still manages to produce a very fun and memorable sound full of nostalgia and energy. I find this to be a major selling point in the band's music, and this element definitely adds to the excitement that is The Cranberries' fifth album. Despite the band's more recent efforts, the level of enjoyment should not come as a surprise to those who have followed The Cranberries at one point or another.
One again, the centre point of the band is vocalist Dolores O'Riordan. Surprising, huh? In all seriousness, Dolores impresses once again. Her vocal tendencies do not quite vary from song to song, but she still manages to provide the band with the voice they need. With that in mind, I have noticed a change in her delivery. Whether intentional or not, she does not sing on the same level as she did on the likes of Ode to my Family or Ridiculous Thoughts, both off of No Need to Argue. She had several beautiful moments on not only those tracks, but the entire album, moments which have not quite replicated themselves over the years. At times her voice seems somewhat forced and on the weaker side. This isn't to say that Wake Up and Smell the Coffee is lacking in the vocal department, however. Dolores has some excellent performances in the likes of This is the Day and the title track. It is here that The Cranberries' frontwoman excels the most, as she exhibits the vocal elements that made her such a treat to listen to in the past. Dolores attains excellent control over her songs often through the chorus, where her melodic voice belts out lines such as "She's only got one reason to live / This is your life / She's only got one message to give / Give it tonight" or "Faith will save you! / Faith will save you! / Faith will save you! / Stay Safe!" O'Riordan's vocal delivery is very satisfying through out the album and her power behind the microphone is also obvious during the many choruses listeners will hear.
To date, Wake Up and Smell the Coffee has been The Cranberries' latest release. On hiatus since 2001, to some it may seem as though the band may never return to the industry. Should the band remain in their state of hiatus, fans can sleep easy knowing that the Irish alt rock band went out on top. For their 2001 record is quite a good album. Forged by everything that made the band so great, Wake Up and Smell the Coffee consists of some of the band's most memorable material. Tracks like This is the Day, Wake Up and Smell the Coffee, Time is Running Out, and I Really Hope are classic Cranberries material, and they are undoubtedly the highlights of the album. Charming, fun, catchy, and interesting are all adjectives that could describe both the band's career and fifth album. If you've enjoyed some of the band's older material, this release should prove to be an enjoyable one, and I definitely recommend it.
This is the Day
Wake Up and Smell the Coffee
Time is Ticking Out
I Really Hope