If you happened to go through adolescence in the 90s, you’re bound to remember the image of Claire Danes listening to Dreams, lying face down on her bed, filled with teenage ennui and slowly dying from Jordan Catalano syndrome. In comes Mum, and Claire yells, ‘You might as well turn it off!’. ‘No,’ says Mum, ‘I like it’.
It’s a perfect 90s moment, one which absolves every bad karaoke rendition of Zombie. And one that also shows that The Cranberries, with their lilting, longing tunes, led by the distinctive wailing of Dolores O’Riordan, once had the singular power to transcend generations. The question today, however, is do they have the ability to bridge a decade? This year, the Irish quartet has attempted to do just that with their first release since 2001.
Roses is the result of two years in the studio alongside the band’s longtime producer, Stephen Street. Fans will be happy to find many a song on the album which reproduces the group’s signature dream pop landscape. The album’s opener, Conduct (a vigorously strummed ballad that sweetly opines: ‘Can’t you see? We should get along’) is a particularly good recreation of the fierce teenage-y sentiment that resonated with so many in the 90s. On tracks like this, it feels like the band has just picked up right where they left off with no hiatus.
But other tracks which seem to attempt some sort of growth, like the down-tempo Waiting in Walthamstow, feel like awkward missteps. So have The Cranberries grown up? Have they proved themselves relevant to a world very different – perhaps harsher – than the grungy, innocent 90s? Maybe not. Maybe they’re forever trapped in a vortex of sentimental adolescence. Whatever the case, it somehow feels safe, and so right.