Alanis returns with new album

by Ben Mandelker | 11/20/98 6:00am

In 1995, Alanis Morissette's album, "Jagged Little Pill," soared to the top of the charts, becoming the most successful female debut of all time. With songs such as "You Oughta Know," "Hand In My Pocket" and "Ironic," the Canadian singer soon became noted for her angry lyrics and distinct, nasal voice.

Now, after a long period of inactivity, Alanis has returned with her sophomore effort, "Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie." The album is a strong follow-up, although its overall sound is less mainstream which might reduce sales.

With 17 songs, "Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie" offers up an interesting variety of musical styles, ranging from the whimsical to the exotic. Rock songs are often infused with a Middle Eastern quality such as with "Baba," "The Couch" and "Can't Not."

For the most part, the album is darker and more solemn than "Jagged Little Pill." With ominous baselines and harsh guitar tracks, "I Was Hoping," "Joining You" and "Would Not Come" stand out as three of the edgier songs on the CD.

In stark contrast to the sound of the rest of the album, the songs "Unsent," "Ur" and "Front Row" have a light, mainstream quality. In fact, Morissette seems to venture into new, pop territory, if only briefly, with "So Pure." If released, "Pure" could easily find a niche as a dance song.

Morissette also includes the quiet and effective ballad, "That I Would Be Good." The song evokes emotions of pain, hollowness and loss while still being uplifting in its own way.

Like her first album, the strength of all the songs lies in the chorus which often has a catchy hook. Unfortunately, the lyrics on "Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie" are rather poor.

They are simplistic, literal and often pretentious. For the most part, the lyrics don't detract too much from the overall quality of the songs, but they still are, nevertheless, distracting at times.

Oddly enough, while the album is fairly solid, it still never truly takes off. There's really no explanation for why the CD doesn't come together. Maybe it is the wide diversity of musical styles, but usually such variety strengthens an album. Maybe the album is simply too long, or maybe the dark undertones just make the CD exhaustive to listen to multiple times at once.

Still, "Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie" is a more complex and interesting release than "Jagged Little Pill." Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to have the heart to make it a truly great album.

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