Most of The Cranberries' recent hits, from "Zombie" to "Salvation," have lamented the world's atrocities within the context of catchy pop singles, serving up sugar-coated melodies to go with all that dour stuff about, you know, Bosnia. Singer Dolores O'Riordan, for all her harsh yelping, self-serious preaching, and tendency to alternately sound like Sinead O'Connor and The Sundays' Harriet Wheeler, knows how to hold your attention and sound good on the radio. But, as anyone who heard 1996's To The Faithful Departed has already figured out, all that sour proselytizing and ballooning arrogance has put a serious damper on The Cranberries' appeal. The regression continues on the medicine-flavored Bury The Hatchet, which unforgivably forgets to include most of the hooks, too. The overdriven single "Promises" is radio-friendly enough—after all, it's more or less a retread of earlier hits—but most of Bury The Hatchet is just a slog, from the mush-mouthed anti-child-abuse anthem "Fee Fi Fo" to the forced-sounding apparent levity of "Desperate Andy." The loping ballad "What's On My Mind" is kind of pretty, but most of the album's remainder is undermined by its stern, dire tone and by such grade-school couplets as "you and me / eternity" and "school / ...the golden rule." A few hit-worthy singles might have salvaged Bury The Hatchet, but without them, it collapses under the weight of The Cranberries' unwarranted self-importance.