It’s impossible to listen to The Cranberries’ final album and not feel a little uncomfortable.

The Cranberries

Dolores O’Riordan was never famed for her lyrics, but when she begins with the words “Do you remember, remember the night/ At a hotel in London…” Well, she died last year of accidental drowning in a London hotel bathtub. It’s enough to give you the shivers.

This swansong’s journey into darker territories doesn’t end there, either. The surprisingly Cure-esque All Over Now continues by referring to a mysterious fight – “She told the man that she fell on the ground/ She was afraid that the truth would be found” – and demons dominate the poignantly titled In The End.

There’s a similar unease on Wake Me When It’s Over, which plods at a Zombie-like pace before an explosive chorus in which, as a victim of childhood sexual abuse, she confesses “Trying to forget something that you know/ It hasn’t killed you yet/ But you cannot let it go”.

Add to that A Place I Know’s “I’m hoping/ Tomorrow will come”, Lost’s repeated “Bring in the night”, and the strange way, towards the end of the otherwise cheerful, oddly early New Order-like Summer Song, she interjects “Maybe we’ll have an accident” and the sombre, introspective space occupied by her lyrics becomes readily apparent.

You might not know that from the music, though, built by the band – with the help of their oftentimes producer, Stephen Street – upon demos recorded during the second half of 2017. O’Riordan’s voice – necessarily, given the circumstances – occasionally sounds thin, but the album was still constructed to satisfy the group’s sizeable live crowds, not accompany its last rites.

It’s not up with their debut, 1993’s Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We?, which was genuinely astounding. Nor will it repeat No Need To Argue’s commercial success. But as a reminder of O’Riordan’s charismatic voice, as well as her soul-baring lyricism, it deserves attention, sad though it is.

7/10

Wyndham Wallace

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