Jagged Little Pill

Alanis Morissette

Maverick Records, 1995


REVIEW BY: Brian Birnbaum


Alanis Morissette is awesome. She’s a great songwriter, pens introspective and gut-wrenching lyrics and even has the guts to do a video naked. And yes, she is hot.

Jagged Little Pill marks the beginning of the true Alanis. Before this massive 1995 release, she was busy recording bubblegum dance/pop records. You can’t blame her though; she was only 19 when JLP came out, so the two previous records displayed a much more inexperienced artist.

While the hits have been the focus here, the most important track is the first in that it sets the tone for what's to come. On “All I Really Want,” the listener is treated with Alanis’ newfound, incredibly skillful songwriting and a guitar riff that's harder than most female singer-songwriters use, but one that works perfectly. The wah-wah pedal used during the verse adds a funky aspect (which isn’t surprising, considering Flea played on much of the album as Morissette’s session bassist) that sounds great juxtaposed with her nearly rapped vocals. The harmonica adds a nice poppy melody to mix alongside an overall darker tone; yet the lyrics carry the song, with Alanis digging into the guy that she used to date. After it’s over you can’t help but imagine her bitch-slapping the shit out of whoever she’s talking about.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

And that’s only the first song.

Jagged Little Pill is probably the ultimate revenge record. Rarely in music history has an artist so thoroughly excised his or her pent-up anger, and equally as rarely has a series of screeds against an ex been so melodic and yet so harsh. This is the ultimate album for anyone who has been dumped or cheated on.

Everyone has already heard “You Oughta Know” and “Ironic,” the biggest hits and two main reasons to pick this up. But there is much more here. “Head Over Feet,” “Mary Jane” and “Not The Doctor” are all great well-written pop-rockers, and even the slight foray into R&B, “You Learn,” is pulled off well.

Lyrically, this is as good as it gets. Every song tells a piece of the story: “Did you forget about me, Mr. Duplicity / I hate to bug you in the middle of dinner / It was a slap in the face how quickly I was replaced / And are you thinking of me when you fuck her?” Alanis snarls in “You Oughta Know,” and you can hear the anger and betrayal in her voice. On the other hand, songs like “Perfect” and “Head Over Feet” cover different areas of Alanis’ psyche; the former is about a girl who can't please her parents and the latter explores the initial feeling of falling in love. Even when she's angry, she's hopeful.

Another big single, “Hand In My Pocket,” is the best song here, a bit more pop than the rest of the record but an excellent vocal performance, with sweet melodies and a great harmonica interlude. And it’s the only tune here you can put on repeat without getting depressed or wanting to hate men.

Alanis doesn’t care if you like her record. Commercial success wasn’t the point, but that it didso well is a testament to her songwriting abilities and her lyrics that connected with a large audience. Not only is this one of the best singer/songwriter records, it’s one of the best albums of the last 20 years.

Rating: A

User Rating: A


© 2006 Brian Birnbaum and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Maverick Records, and is used for informational purposes only.