Roses Are Always RedThe Cranberries fail to move on
The voice of Dolores O’Riordan, lead singer of the Cranberries, begins their sixth studio album, Roses, with a voice as familiar as it is mesmerizing. Ten years since their last release, the Irish quartet is back with a folk-pop sound reminiscent of their 90’s debut. Originally set for 2004, the date of the album’s release was postponed due to a hiatus that lasted until their reunion tour in 2009. Two years later, in April of 2011, the Cranberries returned to the studio with longstanding friend and producer Stephen Street. During the session they recorded fifteen songs, releasing twelve for the final cut. Although the forty-seven minute long album adds a new CD to the band’s repertoire, Roses is more or less the same as the last five albums.
The album’s opening track, “Conduct,” is one of the album’s stronger cuts. Constructed around the battle of knowing when’s the right time to end a long- standing relationship, O’Riordan sings lines like, “Now it’s too late, I can see that we should not be together,” and “When we get along, we’re really strong.” With a strong beat and emotively compelling vocals, listeners who relate to the sentiments expressed in “Conduct” should find comfort in the track’s dreary vibe.
“Tomorrow,” the second track on the album, is one of the other few strong points. Opposed to the somber tone of “Conduct,” “Tomorrow” is an upbeat track reminiscent of the classic 90’s Cranberries pop singles like “Linger” and “Dreams.” While several of the songs off the album deal with relationships, “Tomorrow” focuses on the problem of hesitating out of fear. The lyrics, “tomorrow could be too late,” reflect the impulsive quality that O’Riordan’s lyrics depict.
One of the album’s biggest faults, though, is that a majority of the songs become dull after thirty seconds of listening. Tracks such as “Losing My Mind” and “So Good” flounder with an unfortunate lack of energy. Even “Roses” fails to leave a lasting impression, making it undeserving of being the title track for the album. With its melodramatic melody and forcefully dramatic lyrics like “Life is a garden of roses/Roses just wither and die/Know that you kill me with your eyes,” Roses quickly falls into sappy territory.
O’Riordan also tends to repeat the same line four to five times in a row throughout a bulk of the tracks. When done right, this repetition can become hypnotic, but with O’Riordan’s cooing voice, the songs become tedious. The epitome of such monotony is “Fire & Soul” which is made
up of less than half a dozen three-word- lines that repeat themselves enough to fill up four and a half minutes of space.
Surrounded by less exciting songs, “Schizophrenic Playboy” is another highlight. The sixth track on the album, it seems destined to become a lively crowd pleaser just off sheer chutzpah. The violin break in the bridge is a nice counter to the raw chorus, and unlike the rest of Roses, the track is full of danceable energy and passion.
Although Roses contains a few tracks that take listeners back to The Cranberries’ heyday, channeling their original sound and feel, the band has failed to grow into anything more than what they were in the past. Change should be inevitable, especially with a hefty ten- year-gap between albums, but Roses lack of growth makes it undistinguishable and stuck in the past.