In The End, the eighth and final album by The Cranberries, was an album I approached with a heavy heart, sad to know it was the last, and anxious for it to live up to the high bar I have set for The Cranberries. I walked away a satisfied (if still melancholic) fan.
Opener and lead single, “All Over Now,” has all the classic tones, catchy melodies and gritty hue The Cranberries are known for. Where this record really shines, however, is on the rest of the tracks.
There are softer, emotional songs like “Catch Me If You Can” and “A Place I Know,” and songs that rock in that way they always have (“Wake Me When It’s Over”). Some even have a little pop flair to show the band can still crank the radio hits (“Got It,” “Summer Song”). One thing we know for sure: Miss Dolores was ripping those vocals right to the very end.
Given the nature of Cranberries lyrics, it’s hard not to read into them and listen for clues that reference O’Riordan’s untimely death (“It’s all over now,” “I’m sorry I left you,” even the album’s title, In The End). But even so, I find this to be a very vibrant record, full of energy and life. In some ways that makes it even more tragic. I tried not to experience it in the context of that grim reminder, but it’s a difficult thing to separate, and in some ways I don’t think we ought to.
This album was a gift to us. I was gutted to learn of Dolores’s passing but this record served as a beautiful reminder of the reasons I fell in love with their sound the first time I heard No Need To Argue. In the End isn’t just a nostalgia trip; it’s an album of solid fucking songs that plays to their strengths. It captures what the band is all about and gives us one last chance to hear that Irish powerhouse belt it out with her entire heart and soul.
In The End is a strong record on its own, but given the context, it’s one that I’m especially grateful for. Selfishly I’ll always want more, and I’ll regret never getting to see her perform live, but if you’re a longtime Cranberries fan, you will enjoy this final farewell. Dolores would have been proud.