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DOLORES O’RIORDAN - ARE YOU LISTENING? – HMV/SARE GAMA
Record Rating: ***

DOLORES O’RIORDAN - ARE YOU LISTENING? What can I say about Are You Listening? This is one weird album ~ especially when you don’t really know what to expect the first time around! The first and second tracks, Ordinary Day and When We Were Young are pleasant, run-of-the-mill Cranberries songs…without the rest of the Cranberries, of course, which is pretty much what I expected the whole album to sound like. One difference that is already recognisable by this time is the fact that Dolores sounds a bit different…for the better. She sounds a lot more like Sinead O’Connor with a dash of Tori Amos-like eeriness and a lot less…Irish.

In The Garden starts off with cheery piano bars taking us through the opening lines ~ “I see you playing, in the garden outside my window.” Still not knowing what to expect, I continue to listen as the cheerfulness continues till the end of the first one minute, when a full-scale guitar explosion transforms the song into an Evanesence-like gothic onslaught, taking me by complete surprise. Move ahead to Loser, a song dedicated to people who have done her wrong, and we see her discovering her inner Avril Lavigne, thrashing through the somewhat aggressive lyrics.

Just when things seem to get out of hand, Dolores returns to normal Cranberries form, with the beautiful Apple Of My Eye, putting me in my comfort zone and making me feel that the world had returned to normal once again. Boy was I wrong! What came next was Black Widow, the album’s weirdest track and one of the most haunting things I’ve ever heard. Eerie music fills the background as she ‘Bjorks’ her way through the lyrics. Once again, an explosion of guitars instantly transforms this track into a goth creation, as Dolores snarls “Pull me out” over and over again in a Marilyn Manson-esque fashion ~ YES! You read that right. So now I’m sitting here…completely befuddled. Did I like that track? I think so. Was it boring? Oh most definitely not! Did she sound good? Oh yeah she sounded great…without a doubt! Would I recommend this album to anyone else? I would definitely, even if just to see if they were as befuddled as I.

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