Wake Up and Smell the Coffee
is a bit of an anomaly. Happiness, the music industry truism goes, doesn't lead to good songs--but the Cranberries' new sense of contentment, as parents and as seasoned musicians, has resulted in their best album yet. Gone is the slight tendency towards turgid rock fare, or the sense (as with 1999's Bury the Hatchet
) of going through the motions. This offering is strictly focused and emotionally direct, with all 13 songs welded to Stephen (Smiths, Blur) Street's crystal clear pop production. There's a new honesty to the songwriting, too. "I, at 24, was insecure / Would do whatever it takes," sings Dolores O'Riordan in the title track, a passionate song about how motherhood changed her life. Moving from hard-edged rock ("Do You Know") to the quietly reflective ("Chocolate Brown"), the Cranberries prove they're still major contenders. --Lucy O'Brien
Japanese Version of their Fifth Album Includes a Bonus Track.