Picks and Pans Review: To the Faithful Departed
On their strangely disappointing third release, lead singer Dolores O'Riordan and friends seem to want to build on their early success, best embodied over two years ago by that plaintive pearl of an alternative hit, "Linger." But their reach far exceeds their grasp, starting with an unlikely choice for producer: the hard-rock maven Bruce Fairbairn, known for resuscitating the careers of Aerosmith and AC/DC While Fairbairn has given some sonic punch to a postpunk rocker like the single "Salvation," he can do very little to enhance the bulk of the facile, clichéd material that he is saddled with here.
The fault can be laid squarely at the Doc Martens of chief songwriter O'Riordan. One hopes that when a musician known for her passion writes a song called "I Just Shot John Lennon," you'll get some deeper insight into what Lennon's tragic death meant rather than an obvious line like "what a sad and sorry and sickening sight" repeated over and over. O'Riordan has also turned the once-intriguing hiccuping vocal tic she used on hits like "Zombie" into a grating and overused affectation. She salvages some of her earlier respectability with the touchingly nostalgic doo-wop weeper "When You're Gone." Mostly, though, O'Riordan bogs the Cranberries down under the weight of listless lyrics and an aura of self-importance. (Island)
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