- 17 Jan 19
Hot Press' Siobhán Long knew The Cranberries' No Need To Argue album was a bit special the moment she heard it!
THE CRANBERRIES: “No Need To Argue” (Island)
THE DOC’S are shinier. The haircuts are a tad trendier. The Cranberries have been there, done that and now they’re going to do it all again. The conundrum of how to follow up an album that’s sold 3 million is of Confucian proportions. And Confucius says: ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’.
Seeing your face plastered across feature pages and hearing your larynx stretched thinly over all manner of dodgy airwaves is apparently not all it’s cracked up to be, if the songs on No Need To Argue are to be believed, (though I’m prepared to give it a shot – if anyone cares). The Cranberries have been sauce (har, har!) for every turkey and media ham on both sides of the Atlantic for the past 12 months and what their second visit to the studio says, above all else, is that they’ve had their spell in the fish bowl.
Dolores is coming out, guns blazing, teeth grinding and heart virtually bursting at the seams with enough melodrama to fire at least half a dozen sessions on Anthony Clare’s couch.
O’Riordan knows trauma when she sees it. ‘Disappointment’, ‘Ridiculous Thoughts’, ‘I Can’t Be With You’ say it all about the tone and texture of No Need To Argue. When Everyone Else (was) Doing IT . . . The Cranberries were too, ‘cept, ‘doing it’ then meant (mainly) juggling with matters of the heart first time round, almost always a joyous discovery.
Success has many tentacles though and The ‘Berries haven’t been too enamoured with a few of its strands. No Need To Argue sets its own musical identity firmly alongside its older sibling: O’Riordan’s whoops and hollers still brittle, still stick thin, though seeming to edge an octave higher than they did before. Noel Hogan’s trademark electric and acoustic guitars ply the same trade though this time daring to linger longer past Dolores’ vocals. Fact is, it’s Feargal Lawlor’s percussion that’s strayed furthest from the flock, lending a more subtle scaffold than before, particularly on ‘Dreaming My Dreams’ and ‘Daffodil Lament’.
According to O’Riordan, she’s been through the mill both professionally and personally over the last two years, but the changes that’ve been wrought are largely inside her own head. The voice is pained and fragile, but no more than it was before. She’s matured for sure: ‘Ode To My Family’ has a Keats-like sobriety; ‘Twenty One’ marks out her territory in the Big People’s world; ‘No Need To Argue’ proclaims with religious conviction of her intentions not to dwell over past debacles in the fields of love and war.
Hacks across the water may latch on to the Gregorian chant feel of ‘Twenty One’ to fill rain forests full of theories on her Catholic upbringing and her early choir singing. The Sinéad O’Connor comparisons could be bolstered by their joint fascination with WB Yeats, (Helen of Troy may well be a worthy icon for both of them) and – well, Ph.D’s could be written on the haircuts alone. But when the screaming and shouting’s all over, No Need To Argue will sit quite comfortably alongside its predecessor in the family album, the likenesses clear to the eye, the differences less so.
Confucius was right. And The Cranberries know it.
• Siobhán Long