Sound: The Cranberries had went on a hiatus in 2003 after a 13 year career that included the release of five studio albums. Their two best known songs were probably "Linger" and "Zombie". Though their strongest success was earlier in their career, specifically their first two albums, they continued to be a presence throughout the 90's and into the early 2000's. Personally, for myself, they were a part of the musical background of my teenage years. In 2009 the hiatus ended in what initially was going to be only a reunion tour of North America and Europe. Dolores O'Riordan recorded two solo albums during the hiatus, "Are You Listening?" and "No Baggage". When The Cranberries ended their hiatus, shortly after Dolores was made an honorary patron of University Philosophical Society, they initially toured only playing older songs and some of Dolores's solo compositions. Soon after they began writing the material that would appear on the album. The group entered the studio in April of 2011, and completed recording their new album in May of 2011, the entire recording process taking just under a month. The album includes 11 tracks and clocks in at just under 45 minutes.
The songs on "Roses" tend to be on the lighter side with a lot of sweet vocal melodies and clean instrumentation. You do hear a little bit of light orchestral accompaniment on a few of the songs, as well. There is a fair amount of acoustic guitar on the album. The overall feeling I get from listening to the album is a kind of relaxed awareness. I'm looking forward to hopefully further future releases from The Cranberries. // 8
Lyrics: The lyrics fit the music well, and are well delivered throughout the album. Dolores O'Riordan has always had a beautiful voice and she has maintained it well. After listening to the songs you will find yourself humming the vocal melodies to yourself. Dolores voice ranges on "Roses" between clear notes and a breathy sigh. Dolores shows a lot of growth and maturity in her songwriting which you can tell from her lyrics. As an example of the lyrics, here is the first verse of one of my favorite songs on the album, "Schizophrenic Playboys": "She meticulously curls her hair/ her hair, her hair, her long blond hair/ Applies mascara with the greatest care/ with care, with care, the utmost care/ She puts on lipstick that is scarlet red/ she's already fairly off her head/ Fishnet stockings and a bottle of wine/ she's fine, she's fine, she thinks she's fine". The vast majority of the lyrics are about love, relationships and fidelity. // 9
Overall Impression: In my mind, The Cranberries have always made great music but my favorite songs were the harder hitting songs (harder and heavier in relation to their other material), and unfortunately the harder hitting music I was looking for isn't present on this album. That being said, the album is still solid. The songwriting and arrangement is well done and I'm happy to see another release by The Cranberries. While a little disappointed that the material seems to be exclusively pretty songs, I don't regret getting this album. It is a nostalgic experience for a band that was big during your teenage years to release new material, and especially after a hiatus. That may color my perception of the album release, but I think that the album does a great job showing what a light rock album should sound like as the whole genre doesn't seem to exist anymore. Something I can say is that from the beginning to the end of the album it sounds like The Cranberries and that is not a bad thing at all. My favorite songs on the album would have to be "Conduct" and "Schizophrenic Playboys". I don't dislike any of the songs on the album. // 8
- Brandon East (c) 2012