Album: Alanis Morissette – “So-called Chaos” (2004)

I can’t really say I’d thought too much about this album since 2004, no complaints but SFIJ was usually the album of choice. But what a mistake, I think this is a wonderful album! Not without a few clunkers but in general a very easy listen and still had those emotional hooks that I really understood.

10 Eight easy steps: What a shame this incredible video treatment wasn’t used for a greatest hits single (A PROPER GH), really amazing. With today’s technology it would be even better! Anyway the song is a great opener, basically saying “Well, at least I’m amazing at being completely dysfunctional”, which is a great attitude and a nice unsubtle antidote to some of the more introspective songs she’s done. I’ve been practicing my AAAASSSS OFFFFFF! Just love this song, lots of fun, energy and humour.

09 Out is through: Some escapism now, literally. I really get this too, just wanting to give up anything that is causing me trouble for an easy life, in fact I’m sure most people feel that way to some degree. Nice vocals on the verses with a really catchy simple chorus. That’s one thing I love about this album is the feel of the backing, very fresh and warm guitars, a light year away from the unsettling creaking and crunching of SFIJ, but with really bright melodies holding it all up. Anyway, wonderful song.

10 Excuses: OMG my song… I can tick off the majority of these feelings listed. Makes me feel a bit sad to hear them like this, but also at least reassured that I’m not the only one to overreact like I do. With emotional triggers being tripped like that, it almost doesn’t need a decent song, but we even get that too. Love every part of this, middle 8 is gorgeous and the relentless tempo is a real burst of positive energy. They have thrown rather a lot into the production but that just makes it irresistible to me, especially the closing 30 seconds where she just sings away without any words with all the layers of guitars and production behind her. *has cry*

07 Doth I protest too much: OK well we couldn’t keep this level of amazingness, but happily we don’t fall too far. Alanis is being all cool about her partner’s wandering eye amongst other things (typical MAN), or is she? Doesn’t sound like she’s quite sure, but certainly doesn’t want to be possessive. The song doesn’t really grab me in the way the first three tracks have but it’s not a bad song at all, I’m just rather indifferent to it.

07 Knees of my bees: I do groan silently when I first hear the sitar and stream-of-consciousness OTT drivelpoop about some bloke she fancies. She can’t say that, naturally, she has to go through the whole spiritual connection guff that makes me roll my eyes. The chorus is catchy enough, do bees have knees? I’m sure that’s immaterial. A bit too hippy-dippy goddess flower circle for me, sorry.

08 So-called chaos: It’s tough being an international megastar, and I think this is probably the first time she’s mentioned her fame (except maybe Right Through You, but that was written before JLP’s success). She’s not too ungrateful, just doesn’t want to be tied down with meetings and business, which I’m sure even us ‘normals’ can appreciate. I’ll turn a blind eye to wanting to run around naked like some free spirit, but I understand the frustration of feeling trapped by a situation, so I can get something out of it. Is destressless a word??

07 Not all me: A bit of a duffer now, but I like the synthy intro but I’m not that keen on the song in general. The chorus is a bit of a letdown, and considering the subject matter is a perfectly legitimate reason to get mardy, she seems quite polite about raising her grievances. Maybe it’s really love, I’m used to her verbally (or physically) tearing someone up for lesser crimes.

09 This Grudge: She really is mellowing out, and time to lay some things to rest. Not about the guy from You Oughta Know apparently, though I choose not to believe that, also want to think it’s him out of Hands Clean. She realises that you can be furious and write songs and diss people on the internet, but her momma taught her better than that, and that it’s only her who’s still getting upset by it. That’s a big step for her, and it’s presented vaguely enough for people to relate to, I’m sure everyone has stuff they need to let go of. Easier said than done, but it’s a sweet and emotive song, you can tell in her hyperventilation-tinged voice. Doesn’t sound like she’s too sure about how to let go of it I’m sure I can relate to THAT too.

08 Spineless: A glint of sarcastic malice in the eye here, Alanis is going to pretend to play the deferential woman and devoted herself to some guy. Anyone else not believe her? I love the chorus here, great choices of words, I can just imagine her gritting her teeth just thinking about this sexist pig (who we know nothing about). A bit of fun anyway.

09 Everything: Don’t often get the lead single as a closer do you? Quite an opening line too “I can be an asshole of the GRANDEST KIND”. I know the response to this single was a bit muted to say the least but I always loved this. Sure it’s very Adult Contemporary or whatever it is, but I find it warm and gorgeous, very gentle melody to represent this markedly mellower album. The video is sweet too, apart from those twatty kids and some rather cacky editing. Still not quite sure as an album closer, but I still love this to bits.

So that’s that, the outer reaches of my familiarity with Alanis’s studio albums (despite owning Flavors of Entanglement since release), and a real turnaround for me. As much as I liked Under Rug Swept, it didn’t quite match up to former glories in some senses, and I felt that was the ongoing trend. But a short punchy accessible album like So-Called Chaos was just what I needed from her.

Keepers for the iPod: Eight easy steps, Out is through, Excuses, So-called chaos, This grudge, Everything.

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