Thursday 17 October 2019

The Cranberries' All Over Now review: 'One of the band's more compelling songs of the past decade'

Sadly missed: The late Cranberries star Dolores O’Riordan. Photo: David Conachy
Sadly missed: The late Cranberries star Dolores O’Riordan. Photo: David Conachy
John Meagher

John Meagher

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Cranberries’ formation, but what should have felt like a celebration is anything but. It’s a year since the band’s focal and vocal point, Dolores O’Riordan, died unexpectedly and tragically and their eighth album, In the End, will be their last when it’s released on April 26.

But first - 12 months to the day since her death - there’s this lead single and it’s a song that comes freighted with sadness. As soon as O’Riordan’s vocals come through - and there’s a barely decipherable couple of words at the very start - you remember that she died at just 46 and she never got to hear the end result.

It’s impossible to listen in isolation to the song about a warring couple and not think of what was around the corner especially when she sings about “a hotel in London”. It’s eerily prophetic. She could hardly have known that the end would come in the bathtub of a Hilton hotel room on Park Lane.

Elsewhere, there’s a disquieting line in which she sings “she was afraid that the truth would be found”. It’s about a troubled character in her song, but it could just have easily have been about her. And the repeated refrain of “it’s all over now” has it’s own grim meaning today.

But it’s a mistake to read too much into the lyrics. It’s not like David Bowie’s final album, Blackstar, which was released just days before his death. He knew he was dying and the songs acknowledge that, obliquely or otherwise. When Dolores O’Riordan laid down these vocals, death would hardly have come into her mind. She was thinking about making new music and perhaps rediscover some of the songwriting mojo that seemed to have eclipsed the band in recent years. In truth, the band’s stock fallen so far critically and in the affections of the public, that there would have been little interest in the release of this song were she still alive.

The noise from the Cranberries camp is that the forthcoming album will mark a return to the sound of their first - and best - couple of albums, and it’s certainly the case here. Noel Hogan’s guitars are deliciously insistent and rooted in classic jangle pop. O’Riordan’s vocals remind us that even in her mid-40s, she sounded like the young woman - barely into her 20s - who achieved worldwide fame. The track hangs together well.

‘All Over Now’ is one of the band’s more compelling songs of the past decade or so. It wouldn’t have felt out of place on their fine first album, Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We? but it’s quite a way off the gold standard of their most emblematic song ‘Linger’.

Still, as a taster for In the End, it bodes very well indeed.

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