'Have you got a moment?' This is the simple query
that is said to lie at the heart of The Cranberries'
Wake Up And Smell The Coffee, the Irish band's
MCA Records debut and first new album in two years.
And though you might be inclined to say something like,
"No - Sod off or I'll call the police", I'd spare a
the past decade, the Cranberries have of course sold
millions of records and won fans around the world thanks
to their tight, endearing arrangements, inerrant melodic
instincts and, especially, the often-overlooked vocals
of Dolores O'Riordan. Now celebrating their 10th anniversary,
the Cranberries are said to have pared things down,
and dismissed the flasher mannerisms of their US glam
success, and the AOR groovy train than chuggered along
beside them. And just in case you're in any doubt they've
even got the lo-key and provincial press-shots to prove
Although some might see the new album as an overdue
admission of defeat, there will be some who view Wake
Up And Smell The Coffee as something of a homecoming.
And be warned - it's entirely possible.
The album was produced in Dublin by Stephen Street (The
Smiths, Morrissey, Blur), producer of the band's first
two albums. Says Dolores, "There's a sense of stability
Stephen brings to this band. He used to be so paternal
when he first worked with us, and he'd talk to me like
I was one of his kids. This time, our relationship is
more mutual." Adds drummer Fergal Lawler, "It was great
to be with him again. Stephen really understands us
and gets the best from every one of us." Indeed, the
new album radiates a deep contentment the band members
feel in their lives today, both personally and professionally.
"This is the calmest we've ever been," says Dolores.
"We've proven ourselves by now, so we're really relaxed
and really enjoyed ourselves in the studio, totally
going with the flow."
Songs like the muted "Never Grow Old" and the premiere
single "Analyse" capture the struggle between head and
heart, while appreciating life's simpler joys. "There
was a point in the last year or so when I finally saw
the beauty I had been blind to for so long," notes Dolores.
"These songs say 'don't stress worrying about tomorrow,
next week, next year, when there's so much beauty around.'"
The haiku-like "Pretty Eyes" has a winsome 60's feel,
while "Time is Ticking Out" shows that The Cranberries
still retain all the turbulent political fury of albums
past. The languid "Dying Inside," which describes the
steady corruption of a soul, contrasts sharply with
unabashed love songs like "The Concept" and "I Really
Hope." The slow waltz "Carry On" and "Do You Know" both
celebrate the life-force, while the harder-rocking title
track throws new light on an old saying. The album closes
with the hauntingly personal "Chocolate Brown" cut live
with one microphone. "A few songs on the album have
different vibes from anything we've done before," notes
Mike. "It's nice to do different things, though it's
not something we plan. It just happens naturally."
Taking that organic approach has been a hallmark of
The Cranberries since first forming in their hometown
of Limerick, Ireland. The 80's had produced a bumper
crop of Irish stars, including U2, Clannad, Enya, Hot
House Flowers, and Sinead O'Connor. In 1989, the Hogan
brothers, along with friends Fergal Lawler and singer
Niall Quinn, sought to emulate their countrymen/heroes.
Initially calling themselves The Cranberry Saw Us, the
rowdy band ultimately coalesced when Dolores replaced
Quinn sometime after the band had played a few gigs.
Early demos drew the attention of Island Records' Chris
Blackwell and top producer Denny Cordell (Leon Russell,
Tom Petty), which led to their first major record deal.
In 1992, The Cranberries released their multi-platinum
debut Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can't We? The
1993 single "Linger" reached the American Top 10, with
the album selling over a million copies in North America
and, following a re-release, debuting at #1 on the U.K.
charts (after failing to climb above #75 initially).
Their second album No Need To Argue (1994) sold 12 million
copies in its first year of release, propelled by the
hit single "Zombie," while their 1996 third album To
The Faithful Departed, produced by Bruce Fairbairn (Aerosmith,
Bon Jovi, AC/DC) reaped additional gold and platinum
for the band. More than anything, fans and critics were
charmed by The Cranberries' no-frills style. "We learned
early on that less is more," says Noel. "If you fill
up all the empty space, then there's no room for the
music to breathe, especially given the kind of singer
Cranberries' self-produced 1999 fourth album Bury The
Hatchet topped the charts in 17 countries and set the
stage for their biggest tour ever (6 continents, 110
concerts, over a million fans). After that, they took
a well-deserved break, reconvening to write and record
the new album. The first sessions for Wake Up And Smell
The Coffee took place in summer 2000 at Dublin's Windmill
Lane Studios, prior to the birth of Dolores' second
child. Dolores and Noel each became parents for the
second time with the birth of Molly and Sophie, respectively,
in January and March 2001. "Having children helps you
stop worrying about stupid things," Fergal notes. "And
they brought us closer as a band too. We're always asking
things like, 'How's the teething coming along?'"
Soon, they'll be packing up the teething rings for an
extensive world tour. The Cranberries have always been
one of the hardest working, hardest touring bands, and
family obligations notwithstanding, they're anxious
to get back on the road. "We really enjoyed the last
tour," says Mike. "To go out and enjoy each night the
way we'd always dreamed about was fantastic. Fans anywhere
can feel our vibe even if they don't understand the
Globetrotters they may be, but for all four, there's
still no place like home. Says Fergal, "A lot of people
told us we should move to Dublin or London. But we never
saw the point. Limerick is where we live, where our
families and friends are. Besides, if you're away from
Ireland too long, your heart grows heavy. You've gotta
get back and get your fix, even if it's just for a week
or two. It's a magical place."
There are those that might say The Cranberries themselves
have been responsible for some of that magic. Today,
after ten years and 33 million albums sold, the band
is in their best condition ever, both musically and
personally. "We're really happy as a band and as individuals,"
notes Fergal, "and we think this album captured that."
With Wake Up And Smell The Coffee, The Cranberries have
attained a new artistic benchmark. Drink up.
Crud Magazine© 2001