❉ A testament to the late Dolores O’Riordan’s exquisite voice, writes Eoghan Lyng.
“It was a bitter sweet time. The joy of recording new tracks is always exciting and one of the best parts of being in a band. At the end of every day when we’d laid down our parts there was a sense of sadness, knowing that Dolores wouldn’t be in that evening to work on that day’s track” – Noel Hogan.
Posthumous albums are nearly impossible to appreciate. However strong the material, performances and songcraft are, there’s always a niggling impression that they could have been that bit more complete. Brainwashed worked as it fulfilled George Harrison’s desire to live his life for death. Made In Heaven worked because Brian May’s vulnerable tones ably matched Freddie Mercury’s more virile voice, intertwining one perspective of grief, one of life. Then there’s Milk and Honey, Vulnerable, The Cry of Love; fragments of their artist’s gift pieced by underserving producers. The Beatles themselves may have fancied a reunion with John Lennon, yet George Martin himself could see the downsides of such a project. He wasn’t wrong.
A choice of producer is everything and The Cranberries have rectified this by inviting Stephen Street – indie classics Strangeways, Here We Come and Modern Life Is Rubbish to his name – to work the controls. His fingerprints are all over the album, opening track All Over Now jangles uproariously with the swagger of Johnny Marr. It’s a belting track, the album’s finest, Dolores O’Riordan’s bellowing voice her most confident in years.
O’Riordan’s demise is written all over the album. The hair-raising Wake Me When It’s Over paints a world destroyed by turmoil, the zombies she sang of in 1993 still parading. The lyricism is strangely macabre; O’Riordan will never wake, even when it, whatever it she refers to, is over. Pressure, a work ambigious in topic, pictured by recurring brick walls, is also an uneasy listen given the unresolved nature of O’Riordan’s end.
O’Riordan’s untimely death remains freshly raw. The most important Irish band since U2, The Cranberries maintained a hold on the European charts, offering a unity through lyricism and melody. That guitarists Mike and Noel Hogan found the strength to complete this record is a testament to their companion’s exquisite and ethereal voice. Unsurprisingly, some moments of fatalistic fervour enter, yet it’s no Unknown Pleasures or The Bends by any means. This will be played at parties.
The pleasantly New Order tinted Summer Song offers a moment of happy escape, the choppy A Place I Know evokes a blossomed Paul McCartney discovering love in 1968. The title track (perhaps an allusion to Abbey Road’s closing lyric) closes the album with O’Riordan’s sombre breathy voice wishing her listeners farewell as gracefully as Beatle bassist did when he left his band. However suspicious Lost is as a title, it remains one of the band’s more romantic works.
“The Cranberries is the four of us, you know?” Noel Hogan tells Rolling Stone. “Without Dolores, I don’t see the point of doing this, and neither do the boys.” No work will ever match the band’s ‘90s work. Yet this portmanteau of final moments glimmers with dignity it could easily have missed. That this is the band’s final work is a tribute to their legacy, to their singer, to their fans and to themselves. In the end the love they made is equal to the love we received.
❉ The Cranberries: ‘In The End’ released April 26th 2019 on BMG. Pre-order ‘In The End’ from https://cranberries.lnk.to/InTheEndPR
❉ Eoghan Lyng is a regular contributor to We Are Cult. His writing has also appeared in Record Collector, CultureSonar, Punk Noir Magazine, Phacemag and other titles.