Following up a remarkable debut album can pose quite a problem for a musical artist or group, but the Cranberries shrugged off any hint of a sophomore slump and really outdid themselves with this album. It doesn't have quite the appeal and ethereal magic of Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can't We?, but the complexity and maturity of No Need To Argue is really quite remarkable. Rather than trying to repackage the appeal of their first effort, the Cranberries greatly extended their musical tendrils into the solid ground of serious, socially conscious, heart-stirring lyrics. This album doesn't have the instantaneous listenability of what came before, but that is largely due to the fact that this album is a much more personal, revealing statement on the part of singer and songwriter Dolores O'Riordan. We see a richer, somewhat darker side of the Cranberries in these thirteen songs. Leading the charge is Zombie. I for one love this song; some might say its atypically heavy, rocking delivery doesn't fit the Cranberries' style or O'Riordan's voice, but I say the song merely goes to show the versatility of the band. This was not the type of music expected from this group at the time, and that makes it an eye-opening triumph in my opinion. Ridiculous Thoughts contains traces of the same hard-driving presentation of Zombie, but really and truly this album is one of plaintiff, melancholy songs. There is a touching sadness to tracks such as Ode To My Family, 21, Empty, Daffodil Lament, and Disappointment. Dreaming My Dreams is a quiet love song O'Riordan wrote and dedicated to her husband. Yeat's Grave is a somber and respectful tribute to poet W.B. Yeats, while the title track is funereal in its presentation. Raw emotion does appear in a couple of songs: the specter of child abuse puts O'Riordan's voice on edge in The Icicle Melts, while lonely frustration fuels the passion of I Can't Be With You.
This album put to rest any suggestions that the Cranberries' music lacked substance. No Need to Argue comes across as a deeply personal album that, if anything, is slightly too introspective and serious. This being the case, it takes several listens before the beauty and incredible, emotional intensity of this album really comes across completely. If you only listen to the album a couple of times, you might well dismiss it as a somewhat disappointing followup to the much more accessible music of the group's first album. In time, though, the depth and beauty of this album manifests itself, grabbing you with its incredible intensity. In its own way, No Need to Argue is even more remarkable than Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can't We? With their debut album, The Cranberries soared into the sky; with No Need To Argue, they proved they could fly.