April 22, 2019 The Cranberries – In The End (Album Review)
Tragedy strikes when we less expect it, and a mere few weeks into 2018, the music world mourned the loss of Dolores O’Riordan, at only 46 years of age. Out of Ireland, her lilting mezzo-soprano vocal style would lead The Cranberries to great heights during the 1990s with chart-topping albums, hit singles, and international fame. Coupling her voice with personal, real lyrics, The Cranberries and their dreamy guitar-driven sound would become one of the most unique Alternative Rock bands on the scene. Now, a little over a year after the heartache of O’Riordan’s passing, The Cranberries honor her legacy with their final studio album, In The End.
Set for release on Friday, April 26, 2019 through BMG UK, In The End is more of a continuity of what The Cranberries had planned for the future, rather than what has ended up becoming an abrupt conclusion. An album which the band – Noel Hogan (lead guitar), Mike Hogan (bass), and Fergal Lawler (drums) – had been working on with their friend/musical partner O’Riordan through much of 2017, no one involved could have ever fathomed it would become a memorial to her and the band. That said, no one knows what tomorrow will bring, and it is quite admirable that the surviving members of The Cranberries had the strength to complete the recordings in the wake of their loss. This also with the knowledge that Noel states, “Dolores was so energized by the prospect of making this record and to getting back out on the road to play the songs live.” So, take a deep breath, and explore The Cranberries final opus.
Marking their eighth overall album, and first full album of new material since 2012’s Rose, In The End is sonically everything that makes The Cranberries who they are; a Shoegaze like guitar tone, moments of grungy textures, and vocal performances that are deeply inspiring. Assuring their unique sound is preserved, they also teamed up with long-time collaborator Stephen Street who took on production duties one last time; bow-tying an engineer/band relationship that dates back to 1993’s Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We? Matched with a clearly enthusiastic energy, In The End harks back to the days of some of the band’s most memorable material which includes 1994’s No Need to Argue and 1999’s Bury the Hatchet.
Naturally, like previous The Cranberries material, there is a somber undertone to the mood. A product of true to life experiences and feelings, rather than drag you into a suffocating abyss of lost hope, the emotion brought forth is instead more uplifting. This is evident from the beautifully melodic opening track “All Over Now,” and the more down tempo “Lost,” as well as the heavier “Wake Me When It’s Over.” Whether it was planned or not, there seems to be clear design in the layout of the track listing that does not let you get too low before lifting you back up.
Then there are extremely touching, even more personal moments heard on “A Place I Know” and “Illusion,” and very introspective pieces such as “The Pressure.” This is while “Catch Me If You Can” offers a haunting atmosphere with delicate layers, as “Got It” is a more light-hearted Pop cut, and “Summer Song” has a catchiness that is undeniable; think 1999’s “Just My Imagination.” There are also other equally ear-catching tunes that include “Crazy Heart” and album closing acoustic-based ballad, “In The End.”
Given an overview of the material, for a minute, remove the knowledge that Dolores O’Riordan is no longer with us. Placing yourself in this alternative reality, also forget that this is The Cranberries final album. Having done so, objectively listen to the music of In The End, and it is almost guaranteed you will arrive at the same conclusion – this is a magnificent album. Strong in every aspect, it has the lively nature that would lead you to believe The Cranberries could very well be on their way to a career renaissance.
This opinion developed, now re-enter the real world where Dolores O’Riordan has passed on, as The Cranberries are bidding farewell; you probably find yourself feeling an extremely bittersweet array of emotions. Controlling those emotions – that may range from sadness to anger, to inevitable acceptance – you will see this more than just a swansong. Instead, it is a living, breathing piece of work that will inevitably keep the legacy of Dolores O’Riordan and The Cranberries around for eternity. That is why Cryptic Rock gives In The End 5 out of 5 stars.