Sights and Sounds
by Mike Evans
THE CRANBERRIES — Roses
THE GOOD: Ireland’s Cranberries return with their sixth album, and first in 11 years.
THE BAD: Disappointing? Yep.
THE NITTY GRITTY: All of the elements are here. Dolores O’Riordan’s voice remains both powerful and gorgeous. The band is still incorporating bits of Irish folk and indie rawness into their own special brand of alt-pop. Stephen Street (the Smiths, Blur, Kaiser Chiefs) is even back in the producer’s chair, the man having helmed three of the five previous Cranberries’ albums.
So why does Roses sound so uninspired? Granted, it comes off as dated (circa 1996). But that would be OK if Roses resembled one of the band’s better albums from over a decade ago. It doesn’t.
Most of the songs start off strong, but then fizzle. Opening track “Conduct” sets the mood with its atmospheric riffs and O’Riordan’s gentle coo. Not a great song, but an excellent way to kick-start that Cranberries vibe. Too bad “Conduct” ends up being the highlight of the album.
Maybe the Cranberries have nothing left to say or nowhere left to go. Maybe next time.
BUY IT?: Why bother.
GARBAGE — Not Your Kind of People
THE GOOD: Alt-rockers Garbage have regrouped, rejuvenated themselves and returned with their first new full-length in seven years.
THE BAD: It’s a different musical landscape now than when this band was peaking 15 years ago. People doesn’t see vocalist Shirley Manson and the boys breaking any new ground. But do they really have to?
THE NITTY GRITTY: In 2012, it’s good enough that the new record approaches the drive and energy of the group’s first two (and still best) albums. Manson’s voice still packs a wallop whether it’s purring or snarling; Butch Vig and his crew still make an incredible racket underneath, bringing in elements from both the rock and electronic worlds.
And most of these new cuts grab you immediately with their humungous hooks and banging production. Whether it’s the crash and burn of “Automatic Systematic Habit” or the eerie doom and gloom spread over the title track, People shows off an independent band having a blast with their newly-found freedom. Just like they did back in 1995, Garbage made a record on their own terms.
BUY IT?: Sure.
VCMG — Ssss
THE GOOD: Two electronic legends reunite after three decades apart.
THE BAD: Ssss may not be exactly what you want it to be.
THE NITTY GRITTY: The two artists shaking hands here are the founding members of Depeche Mode — Vince Clarke and Martin Gore. Clarke bailed on DM after only one album, 1981’s bouncy Speak and Spell. Then it was up to Gore to become DM’s principal songwriter while Clarke went on to form Yazoo and later on Erasure.
Now the two (both barely in their 50’s) are in the same room again and their music of choice is minimalist instrumental techno. Ssss is an hour-long thumpfest created on analog synths. And it’s not bad. These two keep the blips and bloops varied so it doesn’t sound like the same track is stuck on repeat, and the beats are forceful enough to set any dance floor ablaze.
But what would have happened if the guys collaborated within the very genre they helped create? That is, traditional synthpop. We may never know.
BUY IT?: Your choice. Ssss bangs, but it’s not all that different from those faceless techno compilations so prevalent twenty years ago.
NEW RELEASES — CD
A PLACE TO BURY STRANGERS — Worship
BEACHWOOD SPARKS — The Tarnished Gold
THE FLAMING LIPS — The Flaming Lips and Heady Fwends
LINKIN PARK — Living Things
MAROON 5 — Overexposed
THE OFFSPRING — Days Gone By
NEW RELEASES — DVD
21 JUMP STREET with Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum
A THOUSAND WORDS with Eddie Murphy
THE ARTIST (Oscar Winner – Best Picture)
MIRROR MIRROR with Lily Collins and Julia Roberts
WRATH OF THE TITANS with Sam Worthington