The Cranberries


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Reuniting with all their original members plus original producer Stephen Street just over a decade after their swan song Wake Up and Smell the Coffee, the Cranberries recapture the sound of their earliest records on 2012's Roses. Nearly 20 years have passed since their breakthrough Everybody Else Is Doing It So Why Can't We?, so it shouldn't come as a surprise that there are some signs of age on Roses, notably in an increased sense of professionalism in the band's craft and also in a slight stripping of the ethereal echo that gave their debut an appealing floating quality. Without this dreaminess, the Cranberries are merely pretty, but unlike the turgidly ambitious Bury the Hatchet and Wake Up and Smell the Coffee -- or on Dolores O'Riordan's pair of perfectly fine solo albums -- Roses has definition and momentum, momentum that doesn't derive from artificially enhanced electric guitars, either. However subtle it may be, the Cranberries do have a chemistry, one that helps shape the melodies, one that gives O'Riordan a gentle, supportive bed for her commanding vocals. Dolores no longer exhibits the tics that sometimes overwhelmed her singing circa "Zombie"; she's settled into her voice just as the band has settled into its sound, opting for the swaying, lilting folk-pop that marked its best work. Roses may not immediately grab hold -- and it's lacking one strong single to pull listeners in -- but it's well-constructed adult pop that's unashamed of being either adult or pop.

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