Now it’s easy enough to slag the pop years off, but all in all I don’t think there is anything here for Alanis to be ashamed of. Behind the scenes may have been a really terrible time for her, but at least we know there was a happy ending (or at least a multi-platinum angry ending).
I didn’t find this as good as her debut, but its mostly more of the same. She’s still on the Paula Abdul/Janet Jackson path of R’n’B lite pop, and while there are some flashes of goodness in the lyrics it feels like the writers (Alanis included) didn’t know quite how to turn these into great songs. Horrible artwork too, could it be any more 90s?
07 Real world: One of the themes rolling over from the previous album is this rather cliched “Children of the revolution” idea, which doesn’t really wash considering how contrived a lot of this is. Feels like it’s trying to be (or at least capture the spirit) of Janet’s Rhythm Nation. It does drag on a bit, feels like they are trying to make a powerful start to the album but I’m not quite into it. It is structured well though, just too long for such a flimsy idea.
06 An emotion away: Lead single now, but I think this is a bit of a mess. Bizarrely I think it would work better with someone with a weaker voice than Alanis, the main problem I have is that she is belting out every word. It’s as exhausting as a full-blown attack of Aguilera. I really don’t get what “Love is just an emotion away” really means, sounds like the sort of thing you’d see on an inspirational fridge magnet.
07 Rain: Time to tone it down now, ballad time! Rain sound effects? Classic. Is she really singing about Rod Stewart? What year is this?? In a bizarre way the backing feels oddly reminiscent of SFIJ in places, only for little glimpses. It can’t resist raising the tempo which I’m not sure is a great idea. She’s a bit melodramatic (surprise), evidently she’s REALLY upset that this person has gone missing and stood her up at the Rod concert. Also she’s in the rain, I bet her hair takes AGES to dry.
07 The time of your life: Got more of a country rock thing going on here, like that Black Velvet song. It feels like a more normal attempt at a song, in fact it barely sounds like Alanis at all for the verses, which is troubling when this comes off as a plus. I like the middle 8, it’s not a bad song, I’m just having trouble caring. That spazzy instrumental bit near the end is rather amazing though.
06 No apologies: Ballad again, now a bit more traditional, and no Rod Stewart. They are evidently going for the amazing songwriting medal but sadly it feels chock-full of cliches, and the central “my heart makes no apologies” probably sounded like a great lyric, and the song was built around that. You can tell that because they wheel it out several times. It’s just a bit of a PLODDER. Shame really.
07 Can’t deny: This is better, not amazing but at least puts me in the mind of the earlier album, even a few tinges of early Kylie filler. But I suppose the clue is there, it’s a bit fillery, which is a shame really as it’s the most light-hearted song so far I think.
07 When we meet again: This is a bit nicer, lower tempo but not descending into great honking misery. Her voice is a bit ropey but that fits the song’s tone I think. The chorus is a bit of a wet blanket though, doesn’t really build into anything and feels a bit more like a verse than anything. She’s enunciating her words all weirdly too, not sure what’s going on there. Still quite chilled out and alright, even if I’m not in a hurry to hear it again.
05 Give what you got: More faux rock-pop Abdul business now, and for the most part I have no idea what she is saying. I’m sure this is all supposed to be very sassy and whatnot, but I keep getting slapped in the face by thinking THIS IS ALANIS STILL. I might have varying opinions about her later output, but this really isn’t the direction she needed to have gone in after the first album. Just doesn’t FIT.
08 (Change is) Never a waste of time: Now a bit more traditional balladeering (this album really has no direction), and I find this track rather sweet. A little bland, but the chorus is quite pretty and above all quite catchy. Thankfully too it doesn’t get too bogged down as it goes into a rather unexpected glory note (ish) and a endearingly crap synth-sax solo. Just rather nice, certainly my highlight from the album, even if that is a bit of a hollow victory.
06 Big bad love: Shame that last track wasn’t the closer, this has a bit more about it than some of the Abdul-esque shenanigans so far, but again I just don’t really CARE. I suppose back in 1992 this might have had more of an audience, I’m not pretending this album is supposed to sound as fresh today as it (probably) did then. A few lyrical clunkers “even Sigmund Freud would have said I was crazy”, and just when you are dozing off, she does some breathy sex-talking and then straight into some bonkers English accent. WTF?
Right well that’s that, the pop albums are done and now consigned back to the forgotten pages of Alanis history where they should really belong. While this isn’t a terrible album, it pales in comparison to her ‘normal’ output and indeed the first album, so it’s a good job that she broke out of this sound.
It seemed more pronounced on this album that the producers were just chasing as many current sounds as they could and hoping a big hit would come out of it. But sadly that doesn’t work most of the time and this is no exception.
Keepers for the iPod: hm.. OK (Change is) Never a waste of time