Everybody else is doing it, so why can’t we? When it comes to reunions, you can imagine every big name from the nineties asking that very question. But the band that asked it first – The Cranberries – have regrouped and released their sixth studio album, Roses. The album features 11 new songs and 16 for the expanded, deluxe version. Once again, producer Stephen Street – the man responsible for their debut and previous offering, Wake Up and Smell the Coffee –is at the helm.

Ten years between drinks and the Irish rock band are said to have reunited after frontwoman, Dolores O’Riordan became an honorary patron at Trinity College. The band had worked on an earlier version of the record but they would scrap this and take a break while various members concentrated on different projects with O’Riordan releasing two solo albums. Roses has been described by the band as recapturing the delicate, darker mood of their earlier works, proving that life is indeed no bed of roses even if you do sell millions of records.

This album at times plays out like a break-up one by The Cure. But it is an alt-rock version of this and the main topic of the lyrics are break-ups and the end of love and relationships. “Conduct” is perhaps the best example of the lot as O’Riordan croons: “I can see that we should not be together”. It’s a mid-tempo song that is about one damaged and destructive soul.

“Tomorrow” is about how people tend to over-think things at the expense of the better alternative, spontaneity. The lead single, it is rather mature in a lyrical sense, because it tackles one stormy mind even though this is as odds with the chiming, 80s guitar riffs that are like little rays of sunshine in the foreground.

“Fire & Soul” is some soft dream pop. Listening to this is like the equivalent of spinning around a room and watching the colours dance thanks to the electronic blips and blops that accentuate the more typical ballad sounds. The following, “Raining In My Heart” is some Celtic pop, once again a track that is like an emotional storm.

Later the listener is treated to some cinematic texture in “Losing My Mind”. It sounds like a standard cut from a film soundtrack where the character is undergoing a major turning point. Cue a montage of visuals where the person falls and then gets back on the horse and you’re set. It is one of the lower points on the album even though there’s some competition from the clunky and at times pedestrian lyrics from the pen of O’Riordan. Observations like: “Life is a garden of roses” are rather cringeworthy and prove even worse when you find they’re repeated.

Thankfully, things improve on the loud, lusty and rough, “Schizophrenic Playboy,” while “Show Me” takes in some different territory again and is like a skip through a woodland dream. A melodramatic number, the latter is at times also reminiscent of Lana Del Rey. The bonus tracks include live cuts including their mega-hit, “Zombie”. Some of the other songs also prove mass, intense sing-alongs that only seem to widen the chasm between the quality of their past and present material.

Roses is contemplative and wistful and proves that when they’re on fire, The Cranberries can still pack a musical punch. The problem is that some weeds are found amongst this bed of roses. This means that if there’d been some careful pruning the band might have made something a little less disposable and a set more fragrant and evocative. Nevertheless, Roses will still prove a welcome gift by the group’s core fans, because for some people the absence of this “present” would be a fate far worse than one that is occasionally lacklustre.

Originally published on 3 May 2012 at the following website:

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