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Wake Up And Smell The Coffee
Easily their best work for some seven years
Phil Udell, 11 Oct 2001
The transformation of Dolores O’Riordan from shy, tranquil Limerick girl to loud, brash, snarling international rock star is, as well as being one of music’s more curious transitions, also a mirror of her band’s fortunes – moving from the deft acoustics of their debut to the heavy handed, rather boorish rock of recent times. On their fifth album, however, a state of equilibrium seems to have been reached by both parties, resulting in easily their best work for some seven years.
The change is evident from the off. Instead of the expected foot to the floor rocker, ‘Never Grow Old’ is a sweet, sprightly number built around a “this is my perfect day” refrain – a theme that recurs throughout. The lyrics are O’Riordan’s most upbeat, optimistic and eloquent for some time, clearly informed by her experiences of motherhood and marriage.
The musicians too, have rediscovered their lightness of touch and have produced their most beautiful record (not a word oft associated with the band recently) since ‘No Need To Argue’. It’s a full five songs in before they really cut loose on ‘This Is The Day’, instead preferring a more subtle, thoughtful approach that gives Wake Up And Smell The Coffee huge depth and a pleasing light and shade. Next to the almost lullaby-esque ‘Pretty Eyes’ then, comes the spirited ‘I Really Hope’ and the simple, almost Motown pop of ‘Every Morning’.
The one snarl at the outside world, ‘Do You Know’, is still a relatively sunny affair, a ‘Linger’-style acoustic strummer that finds Dolores in a defiant mood – “I will be strong, will carry on and I’ll always hold on to my smile”. They spoil it somewhat by adding three ‘special’ extra tracks, including two hopelessly tuneless live tracks and a surprisingly effective cover of ‘In The Ghetto’ but let us not be distracted from the matter in hand, namely that the Cranberries have rediscovered much of what made us love them in the first place.