The rise of Dolores O’Riordan from crushingly shy Limerick country girl to boover-booted rock chick was one of the more alarming developments in Irish rock. In short order, the demands of commerical success turned The Cranberries from indie waifs from central casting into stadium rockers. It also meant the band sacrificed the pained pieties of their early work for simple-minded bombast. Now back in the studio after a ten year break, the reformed Cranberries have blessedly ditched the stadia-designated trajectory of their third and fourth albums and attempted to recapture the wispy innocence and wounded naïvety of their debut. Producer Stephen Street is back behind the desk and while O’Riordan hasn’t quite learned how to reign in the lyrical clangers she has returned to matters of the heart and decided not to pen stirring anthems about the Arab Spring, the recession, or lady Gaga’s pants. The band is in classic jangly form, all Smiths/Sundays guitar patterns, dark cello and melting strings. In the same way Big Country’s guitars always sounded like bagpipes, there is a touch of celtic twee on Conduct and the light touch of Tomorrow may well have featured on their celebrated mega-selling debut album. Dolores still sings like a grevious angel caught in a glass harp and this is never less than a pleasant, undemanding listen.

Alan Corr