There is a certain level of difficulty involved in the creation of a new album after an eleven-year break. People will have strange and/or unrealistic expectations and the nature of the music world will have changed so much over the intervening time that there is a strong chance of either sounding as though you're trying too hard to sound modern or too hard to retain your old sound.
Somehow, this is not a problem for The Cranberries. In Roses, they have retained a sound consistent with their earlier days, as well as sounding perfectly at home in the modern music market. It wouldn't sound strange to hear one of these songs on a modern radio station. The timeless sound may come from the fact that the band has always been just left of mainstream music anyway, or from the fact the The Cranberries remain unafraid of relying on instruments for their musicality, which prevents some of the problems caused when dated-sounding synths are incorporated.
Roses starts off with "Conduct," a song very reminiscent of their earlier work. "Conduct" is powerful and memorable, with the floating vocals that are Dolores O'Riordan's trademark. Following "Conduct" is "Tomorrow," the lead single from the album. "Tomorrow" has more radio power than any other song on the album by a long shot. It's a pity that the video concept isn't stronger:
"Fire & Soul" is lighter and quieter, but features one of my favorite lines on the album: "I'll wait for you forever//I'll take you to my grave." One of the weakest songs is "Raining in My Heart," which isn't a bad song, so much as one that has nothing particularly outstanding about it. "Losing My Mind" is catchier, but lacks the sound for modern radio. Another song that has a throwback feel is "Schizophrenic Playboys," which also has a different tone and subject than any other song on the album. "Waiting in Walthamstow" and "Show Me" are reasonably good songs, but are almost more like support for the rest of the album. Lyrically, "Astral Projections" is intriguing. I know it would have been my favorite track when I was a teenager, just due to the concept.
To wrap up the album, "So Good" and "Roses are introduced. "So Good" is much more complex than the title track. The lyrics are evocative and the melody sweet, but "Roses" is strangely negative considering that it is the last song on the album
Overall, Roses is a good album, but not a great album. The songs are pleasant, the lyrics are eloquent and smart, and the vocals are flowing. The downfall of the album is that there is nothing that truly "pops." I would recommend Roses if you want something nice to listen to, but don't expect it to be the album of the year.
The Cramberries are an Irish rock group formed in 1989. Left to Right: Dolores O'Riordan,
Mike Hogan, Fergal Lawler, and Noel Hogan.
Roses can be purchased here.