ALBUM ANNIVERSARY: The Cranberries - Everybody Else is Doing It, So Why Can't We?
Ambitious, unique debut album straddling grunge and indie turns 30
Today is the 30th anniversary of Everybody Else is Doing It, So Why Can't We? - the debut album by Limerick band, The Cranberries; the perfect excuse for me to listen to an album by the band for the first time.
Like everyone else (particularly those who've watched Irish comedy, Derry Girls), I know and love The Cranberries's hits: 'Linger', 'Zombie' and the ubiquitous 'Dreams'. Beyond this trio of hits, I was unfamiliar with their back catalogue. I knew singer, Dolores O'Riordan, had a troubled past (though not quite as troubled as her Wikipedia entry revealed) and sadly died a few years ago.
What I didn't know was just quite how big The Cranberries were/are. Boasting over 13.5 million listeners per month on Spotify, making them #449 out of all artists in the world. From further digging, it appears that they cracked the US explaining their popularity.
I had thought they were mixed in with the Britpop crowd of the mid-90s but the timings show that the buoyant grunge scene is more relevant to their breakthrough year in 1993.
For a debut, the originality, with O'Riordan's yodelling and distinctive vocals, and confidence of Everybody Else is Doing It, So Why Can't We? is startling.
The atmosphere of the record for the most part is heavy with guitarist, Noel Hogan, playing like Pearl Jam in their slower, more reflective songs. O'Riordan's singing veers from strident to almost whispers and the aforementioned 'Dreams' and 'Linger' are noticeable for the sunnier disposition provided on an album light on happiness.
'Dreams' is full of hope and confidence in making the most of this life; life-affirming, inspiring and understandably attractive to those working in TV and film to soundtrack bright, forward-looking, coming-of-age scenes (or maybe Derry Girls is a one-off!). 'Linger' is a light and breezy brushing off of heavier thoughts - an antidote to the general pensive mood of the album.
'Wanted' also is musically perky, yet the lyrics are dark and ambiguous, contrasting starkly with the tone of the band's playing. 'Still Can't...' is another toe-tapper - a fast-paced, purposeful tune with a heartfelt, emotional vocal performance from O'Riordan as she points the finger at a liar too cowardly to apologise for their deeds.
Aside from these four tracks, the eight remaining songs are slow, absorbing numbers. The album begins with 'I Still Do' with its grunge-y guitar and O'Riordan's laidback, atmospheric vocals. 'Sunday' is one of a few tracks to skilfully incorporate violin as it accompanies an indie track with jangly bass provided by Mike Hogan (yes, Noel's brother) and energetic drumming by Fergal Lawler.
'How' offers a searching, catchy guitar riff which would be at home, again, in a Pearl Jam track while closer 'Put Me Down' includes unobtrusive accordion as the song twice builds to soaring harmonies from O'Riordan and harp-like guitar notes.
At times ethereal, as far as debut albums go, Everybody Else is Doing It, So Why Can't We? deserves its place in the pantheon of first-time classics.
A true measure of a classic album is the influence it has on subsequent artists. For me, I was reminded of American singer-songwriter, Anna Burch, who I can now clearly see was influenced by the band. Other acts to have clearly been inspired by The Cranberries include The Corrs and on the gentle singing front, Elliott Smith. Britpop bands will no doubt have taken inspiration from The Cranberries too.
Having had my first taste of an album by The Cranberries, I'm keen to explore their music even more.