Recording information: The Irish Chamber Orchestra Building, University of Lim (2016).
Photographer: Andy Earl.
Indeed a little extra for diehards and new fans alike, the Cranberries' Something Else serves as both a great primer to the band's classics and a suitable greatest-hits collection. Like Tori Amos' orchestral reworkings on Gold Dust, this release shines a fresh light and decades of hindsight on the Irish group's ten biggest singles, reinterpreted here with the string quartet from the Irish Chamber Orchestra. Dolores O'Riordan's voice remains in fine form, smooth and rich with maturity, backed by her steadfast bandmates Noel and Mike Hogan and Fergal Lawler. Their 1993 debut, Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can't We?, is represented by arguably their best-known songs, "Linger" and "Dreams." The sweeping renditions reinvigorate both songs with more life than their original forms, a treatment that improves a handful of others like 1996's To the Faithful Departed contributions "When You're Gone" and "Free to Decide." On the flip side, the songs that had more bite in their original incarnations are toned down for Something Else, creating an equally alluring angle to the songwriting. Their 1994 alt-rock standard "Zombie" loses its rage, but becomes the somber lament that, deep down, it always was. Likewise, "Ridiculous Thoughts" -- also from the seven-times platinum No Need to Argue -- transforms into a sweeping and yearning plea. The nostalgia trip finishes with 1999's Bury the Hatchet -- "Just My Imagination," "Animal Instinct," and "You & Me" arrive in a satisfying trio toward the close -- before Something Else ends on one of its three new songs. In addition to "The Glory" and "Rupture" -- which sound like B-sides from Departed and Hatchet, respectively -- Something Else includes the heartbreaking "Why?" Written after the passing of O'Riordan's father, "Why?" sounds a lot like her solo work, elevated here by the band into one of their most dramatic and haunting moments. Something Else is worthwhile for the faithful, offering new spins on songs that they likely know by heart, and is an easily digestible snapshot of their 20th century output for those in need of a reminder of the beloved Limerick group's legacy. ~ Neil Z. Yeung