Album: Alanis Morissette – “Alanis” (1991)

Hi guys, keen followers have already seen me traverse the back catalogues of Kate Bush, ABBA and Bjork, how about I tackle a more familiar artist to me? Alanis Morissette has a new album out soon, so I think it’s high time to give some of her older albums an airing. But “Jagged Little Pill” wasn’t the start … no, she had a previous (and reasonably successful) pop career in Canada before she hit the jackpot…

08 Feel your love: Starts as we mean to go on, with beats dripping with random early 90s effects thrown around with gay abandon. It’s clear that this whole album is trying to establish Alanis as this strong independent woman who doesn’t have any time for nonsense from guys. This first single is pretty generic but I really got it stuck in my head. They do rather throw everything at it, including a baffling instrumental on some sort of Western saloon piano. Despite this, her voice stays firmly centre-stage, I love her tone, even if it means it’ll be difficult for her to tackle demure ballads (at least at this point).

08 Too Hot: Bafflingly this was nominated for a Juno award for Record of the year! Not that it’s BAD, but still! Actually in fairness I like this as much as Feel your love, probably since they are cut from the same cloth. It does rely a little too much on the catchy chorus, but I suppose at least it does have one. More 90s effects, and even time for a “put your hands in the air and wave ’em like you just don’t care”. She was a co-writer on all these tracks you know! I can imagine she did the decent bits, and some 30-something producer made up all the “cool” stuff they keep flinging at this record. I have to think that, if I’m to explain her career afterwards…

07 Plastic: Oh Alanis is on the warpath against superficial people, as she often tends to be on this record. The subject of the song has a plastic house with a plastic fence, and a plastic girl on a plastic bed inside his house made of gingerbread . Is it gingerbread or plastic? Is having a gingerbread house a put-down? This is too deep for me, or maybe I’m just missing the point. Aside from the stupid lyrics, the song feels a little weak, the production is a little toned down, but Alanis isn’t so she seems a little SHOUTY.

08 Walk away: Why do they keep using 50s TV announcers (or similar) for sound effects? Took a moment for me to remember this one, but actually it’s one of the stronger songs I reckon. This is a pretty consistent effort, I’m enjoying the little story going on here (man trouble again, quelle surprise). It runs nicely into the chorus too, though I’m still trying to hearing Alanis’s voice on these sort of records. This track is pretty much exactly what you would imagine this to be like, if you thought Alanis + 90s pop, it’s surprisingly not a bad match.

09 On my own: Ballad time! Now it really is a bit over-egged, but I really think this is great! I could almost imagine her writing this herself (though she only has a co-write credit), it feels like something can could be polished over time into the writer that made Jagged Little Pill. It’s melodramatic and I doubt there are any hidden meanings but I still like it a lot. I’m just not sure if I’m enjoying it for real or partly as a comedy moment… I think it’s the former. Those last seconds really ARE ridiculous though!

07 Superman: Hmm not really liking this as much but it’s growing on me. Feels a bit like a paler shadow of the songs heard earlier. I’m not sure where the chorus starts either, there are many different sections to this song, perhaps to a fault. It’s a bit of a mess but I’ve heard a LOT worse.

06 Jealous: OK now she’s scared off all the men, she’s picking apart the dysfunctional relationship of some other couple. Particularly the jealous girl, though I’m not 100% clear on what she’s done wrong. Sounds more like she’s a bit of a slag, but why would that make her jealous? Anyway the song itself is a bit of a DIN, I’m not really a fan. Must be going for a rocky sound (ha!) this time, and just comes off as a CACOPHONY, so I suppose mission accomplished. What’s with the round of applause at the end? UNDESERVED

08 Human Touch: !!  Well this just keeps on giving, some weird vocal pan-pipes and Satan voice clips for the intro, then she starts RAPPING. It’s a brilliant rap too, “you’re living *unintelligible* with the new Brady Bunch, have your people call my people, LET’S DO LUNCH”. I just keep getting thrown by this Satan-sounding burping roar thing. This is a bit of a mess really, but it’s got enough going on to keep me entertained and distracted from the “Ugh people are so superficial” message again.

08 Oh Yeah: !!! Well if Human Touch was a mess, this is a hot mess and no mistake. Alanis has no need to be ashamed of this record, I think it’s pretty solid and would have been better at the time too, but THIS track is a real turkey. That first bit… “My name is Alanis *awkward pause* I’m a white chick SINGAH *another awkward pause* the drums are a’smoking and so’s the bass *lumpy intro*. WTF?! Then she’s putting on this ridiculous voice while accompanied by her own chicka-chicka-hahhh vocals and then bizarrely some sort of Punch and Judy effect (non-UK note: Punch and Judy are a British seaside tradition from the Victorian era, basically a puppet show involving domestic abuse and crocodiles). OK so I will concede that the joke runs a bit thin, but it’s still a bit of fun.

07 Party Boy: At the end now, with a bit of a damp but dancier effort. Actually maybe it’s no different to the tracks nearer the start. She’s really not letting her boys have any fun is she? This time the poor sod is partying too much and not giving her enough attention. I doubt she’s going to make much headway with this guy, I’m not sure if he’s “misbehaving” with other women, or just being a .. party boy. Anyway the song is ALRIGHT, another solid pop song, but it’s lacking the spark that some of the tracks here are.

Yes I fully realise that I scored all the tracks between 6 and 9, but I feel happy with those ratings. As a whole it’s really not a bad album, and I have thoroughly enjoyed listening to it this week. Of course it hasn’t aged particularly well, but that doesn’t invalidate it. I’m pleased to hear that Alanis’s voice isn’t put-on, she really does sing like the old Alanis we are all used to. Sure the hair and the tempo and pretty much everything else may have changed, but at the core she’s still in there somewhere. I’m curious to know how much writing she did, with a co-write credit on all the tracks, but suppose that’s lost to the ages. Anyway, a great start to my little pilgrimage, considering how bad it could have been.

Keepers for the iPod: Feel your love, Walk away, On my own.

 

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