As they prepare to release their final album, The Cranberries share the record’s title track ‘In The End’. The last song recorded for the album, and the last track on the album, it is an apt conclusion to a record that pays tribute to Dolores O’Riordan and brings to a close the band’s singular career.
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What a way to finish the record. To have ‘In The End’ as the last song is just perfect” says Fergal Lawler. “Lyrically it is self-explanatory,” adds Noel Hogan. “It speaks for itself, it just is a lovely feeling and it’s a gorgeous song”
Ain’t it strange?
When everything you wanted
Was nothing like you wanted?
In the end
While many bands may aspire to be timeless, or have a sound that transcends the whims of musical fashion, The Cranberries are one of the few to have achieved that. Play one of the Irish rock group’s early anthems such as ‘Linger’ or ‘Dreams’, and they sound as fresh – and deliver as much of an emotional sucker-punch – as when they captured a generation’s hearts in the 1990s.
Now, nearly 30 years after the quartet of singer/songwriter and musician Dolores, co-songwriter and lead guitarist Noel, bassist Mike Hogan and drummer Fergal first appeared, they are releasing their eighth and final album ‘In the End’.
The genesis of ‘In The End’ began in May 2017 while the band were on tour. By winter of 2017 Noel and Dolores had written and demoed the eleven songs which would eventually appear on the album. “Dolores was so energised by the prospect of making this record and to getting back out on the road to play the songs live” recalls Noel.
Produced once again by Stephen Street, In the End sees the band coming full circle, with a collection that evokes their very first LP. “When we listened to the demos, the three of us and Stephen were thinking ‘this sounds much closer to the first album than anything else’. Dolores was singing very softly on some songs, which was closer to how she would have sung back then, and the simplicity of some of the songs as well brought us back to that time,” says Noel.
The album kicks off with a formidable one-two which is a reminder of their range. The driving ‘All Over Now’ is a classic, widescreen Cranberries anthem, with Dolores giving voice to the fractures of a relationship against a backdrop of chiming guitars; then, following it, the haunting string-swept ballad ‘Lost’ dials the tempo right down, while giving space to Dolores’ yearning vocals to soar to soul-piercing heights. Elsewhere, they veer from the grungy release of ‘Wake Me When It’s Over’ to the tender, country-inflected ‘A Place I Know’ and the upbeat jangle-pop of ‘The Pressure’.
If there’s an overall lyrical theme, it’s a sense of wiping the slate clean, and new beginnings, which reflected where Dolores was, both in her personal and her creative life: re-energised and ready for a new phase. “I remember talking to her that summer and she said ‘I’m starting all over here’ and a lot of the songs discuss that,” says Noel. But, as ever with The Cranberries, lyrics that may derive from individual experience masterfully tap into universal emotions, framing them in terms that we can all relate to, whatever age, gender or nationality.
As the huge wave of public adulation in the wake of Dolores’ passing showed, The Cranberries may be over, in one sense – but they will forever live on in the musical pantheon.