Thursday, June 05, 2008

Flavors of Brilliance

I think at this point in her career, it's fair to say that Jagged Little Pill has more fans than Alanis Morissette does. The 1995 "debut" (it was actually her third album) was a world dominating bazillion seller that her subsequent releases have not matched. Of her remaining fan base, the vast majority of them are patiently awaiting a new album that outclasses Pill. I say vast majority because, for me, her 1998 sophomore album is an absolute masterpiece. It left a lot of Pill lovers cold and I don't know if it is because when it was released I was battling with depression and trying to fend off some sort of mental breakdown (I eventually failed. I'm better now.) and so the album's darker themes connected with me on a more fundamental level, but I genuinely think that Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie is a towering achievement. So it's pleasing that, almost a full ten years later, she has delivered something that is every bit as good. Not only that, but it also sees her branching out from her musical comfort zone every now and again with a new and different sound. A sound that, to quote her directly "will make you want to dance your face off."

"Citizen Of The Planet"

The opening track is also the album's most uncertain. It's old Alanis, with ethnic influences and a prominent guitar but it's also a little unfocused lyrically.


The lead single and also the first nod to the newer, dancier direction Morissette has decided to explore. You've heard it already and if you like it then you're gonna love the album.


Starting off in an old Alanis style, with her asking over a loud guitar who you're addressing "with such fucking disrespect", this proceeds to be New Alanis and be a superb upbeat number that makes me want to dance every time I hear it, gloriously at odds with its more serious lyrics.

"Versions Of Violence"

Old Alanis is back with a loud brash rock song which seems to be about how people can be so horrific to each other in the most subtle of ways.

"Not As We"

The first ballad (just Alanis and a piano) and also the first song on the album to address her break up with Ryan Reynolds. It's absolutely beautiful and more than a little heartbreaking when it gets to the chorus and she sings about faking the fact she's making it while starting over but "I as I and not as we".

"In Praise Of The Vulnerable Man"

There's something oddly summery about the sound of this bouncy little song. Lyrically it does exactly what the title suggests.


More New Alanis. This is another song exploring the dance side of things that again melds brilliantly with Old Alanis lyrics. Another Ryan Reynolds inspired one as Morissette declares a break from anything and everything to do with relationships. It's also the song that the album title is culled from. Brilliant.


Another Ryan ballad. I wonder how he feels having so many songs written about him? Anyway, this is the flip side to "Bees Of My Knees" as Alanis details all the things she misses about her ex and how she never envisaged it ending the way it has.

"Giggling Again For No Reason"

New Alanis at her most successful, this is a fucking brilliant track that will make you smile when you hear it and if you can keep your feet still while it's on, then it might be because you're dead.


Old Alanis is back with a song about having a tape loop of crazy thoughts playing in her head, over which she has no control. I can relate to that.


Old Alanis sticks around lyrically but New Alanis is back with her poppy upbeat music for this track that focuses on the fact that no matter how fab everything in her life might be, there's always the nagging suspicion that there's something missing.


Disc 2 sees much more Old Alanis. This song does have a vaguely dancey beat but not overly so and the lyrics are very self reflective about how she's perceived and treated versus who she really is. Which is not to say I don't like it because of course I totally do.

"The Guy Who Leaves"

This has a much more forceful and darker presence yet somehow manages to be a dance influenced track too. Possibly another Ryan Reynolds inspired one, discussing how until she's truly happy, she's going to drive people who love her away from her with incessant neediness.


A beautiful track. Another possible Ryan one as it details how he brought a madness in her, one that stuck around after he left and how that allowed her to see herself from outside herself and view all her faults. Harsh.

"Limbo No More"

Another reflective song about how she's never really given anything in her personal life her all, and so she's always felt like she's in limbo but now she's really ready for that feeling to be over.

"On The Tequila"

In case you're thinking she's a right dreary bitch, this is a happy smiley pop song about getting smashed with your girlfriends on the titular beverage. Fun, frothy, fabulous.

"It's A Bitch To Grow Up" (iTunes bonus track)

It's easy to forget that Morissette is only 34 as she's been massively famous for a full 13 years now. Here's a little ditty about feeling "raked over coals" and having enough of it all. Is there ANYONE who's enjoyed the aging process?

And there you have it. 17 tracks, some more outstanding than others, but all of them fantastically accomplished. If you're already a fan, this will be on repeat for months. And if you aren't a fan, well, I hope this new CD doesn't inspire you to the murderous rages her previous ones have.

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