Record companies often crack open the vault and release what is touted as new material by late artists. Some have worked wonderfully, like Queen‘s mid-90s release Made In Heaven, pieced together from unfinished demos featuring the late Freddie Mercury. Similarly, we await the final album from The Cranberries, a dedicated, posthumous tribute to Dolores O’Riordan.
Unlike other releases in the same vein, In the End contains no previously released music. The eleven tracks are sculpted around unfinished demos. The initial work on In the End began in May 2017 while the band were on tour. By winter Noel Hogan and Dolores O’Riordan had written material and began the process of stitching the raw product together.
After her tragic passing, Noel, Mike Hogan and Fergal Lawler listened to the songs and had an idea. With the support of Dolores’ family, they wanted to honour their close friend and collaborator by completing the record. After spending weeks in London recording the music to O’Riordan’s vocals, the finished work will finally see daylight on April 26.
The spectral force of O’Riordan soars with passion throughout, right from the subtle, opening whispers of lead single ‘All Over Now’. The album’s sound opens up fully with melodic guitar lines and that hypnotic vocal line. The haunting chorus is a spellbound compass point for the heartbreak to come. Next, ‘Lost’ pulls back on the guitar cranks for some clean picking, helped along by a dramatic, intense drone invading the song. Tension builds as O’Riordan sings soulfully above orchestral strings which climax beautifully.
The bass run domination of ‘Wake Me When It’s Over’ is reminiscent of ‘Zombie’, minus the wall of distortion. It’s not until the singalong chorus when the rest of the band erupt. In contrast, ballads ‘A Place I Know’ and ‘Illusions’ are strong and full of nostalgic tenderness, reminiscent of ‘Linger’ or ‘Ode To My Family’.
Above all, the talent of Dolores O’Riordan has always been her way of making the simplest syllable a passionate plea. Here, it’s no different. The songs, at their core, are a reflective look back over life. ‘A Place I Know’ is a perfect example of this theme, adding an extra slice of magic to the affair.
‘Got It’ is the tear-jerking breaking point as O’Riordan examines the societal view of fame and the frailty of it. Backed by the band in full assault mode, the lyrics here are as poignant as anywhere else on In the End:
“Where will we live?
Where will we die?
People wish you’d decide in society”
‘Crazy Heart’ glides along with effortless groove and chemistry as the band deliver in a unique, carefree style synonymous with The Cranberries. Following this, ‘Summer Song’ is an upbeat moment on the album, a love song which swings and ruptures any darkness to shine the sunlight. Finally, the title track wraps things up with an acoustic affair close to the original demo. The vocals are a sultry, emotional swell of magnificence, ending abruptly as Dolores delivers the final line.
This isn’t just a fitting release, it’s a fully formed “thank you” from Dolores to the fans. The band have built the best possible album from what remained, keeping her vibrant spirit alive. The remaining three members must have found it emotionally difficult to finish In the End, but that turmoil has produced what will be seen in time as one of the finest releases by The Cranberries.
In the End will be available to buy/stream from April 26.