How do you feel about Alanis? Do you love her?...
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT Alanis? Do you love her? No, but do you really, really love her, in a post-needy, holistic, spiritual and bosom flavoured, swan-hugging kinda way? You’d better, because if you relate to Alanis as a blathering, Disney-faced nasal mosquito this is going to be tough.
‘Supposed…’ is not by any means a Shaun Ryder solo album. It is the bit where, following the 28 million sales of ‘Jagged Little Pill’, Morissette stops, thinks, goes to India, stares into the fame-shattered remains of her swan-costumed psyche, considers giving it all up, and then writes a 17-track, hour-and-a-half long, open agony letter to the universe concerning her miasmically complex interfacing with mom, celebrity, God, blokes and blokes.
Tight and candid ”90s woman’ post-folk pop it isn’t. ‘Thank U’ lists where her ‘head’ is currently ‘at’ within a pleasant, lilting Liz Cocteau-on-a-broomstick style frame. ‘So Pure’ is a petite cosmic love paean with a joyous sykrocketing chorus. ‘Baba’ makes like a Soundgarden tribute band but saves itself with a spiteful lyric attacking karma-for-dollars Buddhists. The surrounding terrain is, however, fewer small jagged pills and more gnarly and amorphous Yoga Rock suppositories. With tablas. Pitched between Grace Slick and Dolores O’Riordan the voice remains awe-inspiring, but lyrically the scattergun emoting overwhelms.
Approximately four razor-fingered, Tori Amos-on-crack-downer deconstructions of a relationship along, just before ‘The Couch”s study of, erm, her mum’s visit to the psychotherapist, Alanis waltzes into a crhche-friendly list of reasons to like herself, including: “[I]That I would be good even if I was cliiiingeeeeey[/I]”.
Clingy. Clingy! Even the most Gaia Sharing Tofu Mom could be forgiven a momentary desire to shotgun the head off the nearest swan after a line as wet as that. Then comes a flute solo reverberating with enough empathic floweriness to make Suzanne Vega join the US Marines.
There is no question that Morissette has ‘grown’. ‘Supposed…’ places her on top of a crushed mound of Lilith Fair wannabe kook-on-a-couch sister-stars, towering over US music culture, hugging herself and forcing Phil Collins to go down on her. But it is also a presumptuous record that mistakes incontinence for ambition. It goes on and on. It shares too much, too tunelessly. It’s like being stalked by Joni Mitchell’s nervous breakdown.
No doubt after 28 million sales Morissette needed to make an album just to please herself but that doesn’t make it any more listenable or cathartic. Unless of course, you love her in a highly evolved, nurturing and unconditionally patient kind of a way.
Men, you see, are from Mars: Alanis is from Verbose.