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Bobbyisms: The Cranberries remain golden years later

Bobby Foley | Interrobang | Lifestyles | February 14th, 2011

I write about random things a lot. I write a lot about random things. And in the spirit of randomness, is there any greater pleasure than going back through your library and music collection to rediscover a forgotten favourite album? I mean, out of the non-sex pleasures.

The Cranberries — singer Dolores O'Riordan, brothers Noel and Michael Hogan playing guitar and bass, and drummer Fergal Lawler — were a hugely successful pop-rock band out of Ireland early in the 1990s. Originally formed in 1989 and called The Cranberry Saw Us, the group evolved to release Everyone Else Is Doing It, So Why Can't We? in 1993.

Though it didn't garner a lot of attention for the record — despite the singles Linger and Dreams — it did garner interest in the band, enabling them to re-enter the studio and return in the autumn of 1994 with No Need To Argue.

I've long maintained that a band's second album is the true test of their gifts. Traditionally, a given band or artist's first release is packed full of material that they've spent years tweaking and adjusting to fit a specific vision; a band or artist's second release, however, is often fraught with trial.

Bands are often rushed into producing more work following the touring of their first record, in an effort to produce while the band is still hot. Bands face the pressure of writing and producing a new record from scratch to match the success of their debut, with the added strain of having had no rest — or the prospect of rest — for some time.

It's commonly called the "sophomore slump," and it has swallowed a lot of artists over the years. The music that survives it, though, is brilliant; observe that the second record of almost every band or artist seems to have a much darker theme, reflecting the struggle to adjust to a new life in the public eye.

All of that can be said about No Need To Argue, as well. Not only is it considerably darker and quite heavy at times, the lyrics do reflect that a lot of the theme has to do with loss, with finding one's self and roots, and reacting to surrounding madness.

But as a skeptic, if you had resigned to writing the album off as a group of kids that love Morrissey and Doc Martens, you'd have trouble beginning as early as the album's first track, Ode To My Family. Far from the archetype of a blockbuster record opener, the song is personal and delicate.

The music on No Need To Argue continues to fluctuate, preventing you from anticipating each next move. The flow of the record sees it travel through the upbeat I Can't Be With You into the breathy, dark Twenty One and back into Zombie, itself one of the most popular alternative rock songs of the 1990s.

By this point, it is clear that you're won't be able to pin the record down; Empty is a quiet, achingly beautiful song, flowing eerily into the hypnotic Everything I Said. It continues on in the same theme, perfectly pairing bombastic rock songs with their own unique shimmery sound.

The Cranberries found their niche, and in the process made one of the most listenable records in decades, a record I think you should hear.

Top five songs: Empty, Ridiculous Thoughts, Disappointment, Zombie, Dreaming My Dreams.

Twenty per cent that I would cut (three songs): Everything I Said, Twenty One, The Icicle Melts.

Having reformed in 2009, the band is supposed to now be occupying a studio recording their first album of new material in 10 years' time. To stay up to date on their progress, you can visit or follow them on Twitter @The_Cranberries.

And as always, get all the latest news, views and streams by following this column on Twitter @FSU_Bobbyisms or by reading all the latest in the Music Recommendations thread on our FSU social network. I'm out of words.
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