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The quintessential debut of the 1990's
on April 14, 2000
In the early 90's, "alternative" was all the rage wasn't it? And in that pile of debuts, only three stand out for me. Let's see... It was 1993. There was Radiohead. There was The Smashing Pumpkins. And there was a little band from Ireland called The Cranberries. They just came out of nowhere and took the world by storm. But, brilliant as those other bands may be (and Radiohead's excellence didn't really show until their second album, by the way), The Cranberries had one up on them with their debut Cd: "Everybody Else Is Doing it, So Why Can't We?" Because they weren't trying to innovate. Theirs was a message of simplicity, and they hammered it home in such dreamy and elyptical fashion, that you could not get that incrdible voice or those haunting melodies out of your head. With their more pretentious contemporaries trying to give new spins to 60's psychodelia, The Cranberries had a down-to-earth pop sensibility that made them irresistible. A timelessness. Consider that "Linger" is such a perfect love song, that it can exist at any point in time and fit right in. As lead singer Dolores O'Riordan once said: "Patsy Cline could have sang it." And she's right. If one could travel back in time to the late 50s or 60's with this recording, and pump it through someone's turntable, it wouldn't seem out of place. And yet, it doesn't seem dated. Most of the other songs on this wonderful 41 minute recording (even the length and structure of the album itself is old-fasioned) have that same quality to them. Even "Dreams", that unforgettable pop song that echoes in our minds to this very day. You could see that they were influenced by the British indie scene of the 1980's (particularly The Smiths); all the more evident when you consider that Smiths and Morrissey producer, Stephen Street, handled this recording as well. But they gave all that a freshness and a unique quality that made their music seem totally original. After this, The Cranberries moved on and produced more quality work. Their follow-up, "No Need To Argue" (released the following year), showed a rare maturity that most bands don't accomplish in a decade, let alone a year. Their varied range is just another of this often underappreciated band's attributes. Later on, they went from experimental ("To The Faithful Departed"- 1996) to whimsical (last year's "Bury the Hatchet.") But with this first release they truly marked a moment in time. "Linger" is to the 90's what "Every Breath You Take" was to the 80's. This kind of watershed is not a common occurance, and so The Cranberries remain one of this generation's most important bands. Their debut, in a sense, is the quintessential 90's debut because it proved without a doubt that there really was new music worth listening to out there... Too bad this is no longer true.