By their third album the Cranberries had lost much of their magic and by 1999’s Bury the Hatchet, they’d already been buried by America’s teeny boppers. Now, with a new decade, a new label and a refurbished sound, the Cranberries attempt to rekindle their wisp with Wake Up & Smell the Coffee. Much of the album is reminiscent of the band’s debut—simple melodies and lyrics abound. Short and sweet, tracks like “Dying Inside” and the disc’s opener, “Never Grow Old,” recapture the pure breath of freshness that was 1993’s Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We?. Elsewhere, Coffee‘s first single, “Analyse,” more than recalls the band’s hit “Dreams.” The song’s drippy electronic bleeps add an additional empyreal layer to the Cranberries’s already ethereal sound, while the title track’s sub-techno intro gives way to a riff-driven mid-tempo rocker.
Fast approaching mid-life, frontwoman Dolores O’Riordan reflects on themes of mortality and embraces “carpe diem” on tracks like the delightfully optimistic “Every Morning.” “Time Is Ticking Out” walks familiar socially and politically-conscious territory for the band, but the Cranberries are a long way from the heady “Zombie”; the track’s lyrics are often elementary by comparison (“I guess that we screwed up the ozone layer/I wonder if the politicians care”). With a few exceptions (such as the reggae-hued, piano-driven “The Concept”), Coffee sticks to what the Cranberries do best: constructing the radio-friendliest of pop alternatives. Unfortunately, Dolores and Co. fall a bit short of the emotive and atmospheric heights of 1994’s No Need to Argue, arguably the band’s creative (and commercial) zenith.