For their first studio album in over a decade, The Cranberries pick up exactly where they left off with 2001’s Wake Up And Smell The Coffee. Which is to say, looking directly back towards the successes of the Irish quartet’s first two full-lengths.
On Coffee, they stripped away the rockier and spacier elements that muddied up mid-period efforts and returned the lilting pop that garnered their best critical notices and chart successes. So, maybe Roses is a tentative step back into the fast-moving streams of the music industry ca. 2012, but it’s at least a solid one.
Key to the success of this album is singer Dolores O’Riordan’s vocal luster, which hasn’t lost an iota of beauty and grace. It helps too that she sticks to an intoxicating breathiness instead of veering into brutish rock antics a la their top 20 U.S. hit “Zombie.” Too, the rest of the band prefers to reside in the background, providing a lush or chiming backdrop for O’Riordan’s visions of love both tender and wicked (listen as she calls out a nasty lothario on the John Barry-inspired “Schizophrenic Playboy”).
Where Roses shines the brightest is via the textures that gild the album’s edges: the mixture of fuzzy and phased out guitar sounds that rope through “Fire & Soul”, the string section that bends and dips along with O’Riordan’s voice on “Waiting in Walthamstow,” and the digital frissons that add tingly ebullience to the title track. In that respect, credit must be shared with the band’s most frequent collaborator, producer Stephen Street. He once again proves himself to be the perfect foil to help The Cranberries sound as sweet and luscious as ever.