Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie

Alanis Morissette

Maverick Records, 1998

http://alanis.com

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 11/17/1998

Some people see a change in musical styles to be a dangerous thing. While it can scare away fans who latch on for one song, most groups aren't done in by such a change.

In the case of Alanis Morissette, however, it is indeed a factor in the artistic failure of her latest release, Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie. But the biggest reason this album fails is that she takes herself too goddamned seriously.

With only a few exceptions, gone are the driving, syncopated rock beats that had her on almost every radio station in the country. Gone also is a lot of the regular lyrical structure, replaced with what often sounds like a stream of consciousness vocal delivery.

The first single, "Thank U," is infectious enough, and a solid choice for the leadoff track. What I do question is why she and producer Glen Ballard would choose to use a drum loop sample instead of having Gary Novak provide the backbeat. (If you listen very closely, you can hear a very short break in the drum pattern, especially early in the song.) While I still like this song, it did tell me there was cause for alarm regarding the rest of this disc.

I hate it when my intuition is right. What fans have been waiting two years for turns out to be almost like a ranting commentary on Morissette's life since experiencing the juggernaut that was Jagged Little Pill. While the ribald tales of love and sex are nowhere to be found on this album, there is a lot of talk about failed relationships, many of which I would dare to claim are autobiographical from Morissette. Unfortunately, namy of these like "Front Row" and "Are You Still Mad" fall prey to weak songwriting (many sound like variations on one chord) and the rambling lyrical delivery. However, when Morissette is on, as she is with "Unsent," she shows some flashes of her earlier brilliance.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Two things are seriously missing from Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie. The first is a sense of poppiness that spread through much of Jagged Little Pill, though her track "Uninvited" from City Of Angels - a decent song, in my book - was a warning of things to come. Many of the songs on this album seem to be nothing more than droning mantras to anguish ("Baba", "The Couch", "I Was Hoping") - so much so that when the few shards of pop stick their heads up ("Joining You"), they sound incredibly out of place. I don't think this was the effect that Morissette wanted to achieve.

Second, and more importantly, there is not a sense of tongue-in-cheek playfulness on this album. On Jagged Little Pill, songs like "Ironic," "You Learn" - even "You Oughta Know" - had a sense about them that put a smile on your face even if the message wasn't the happiest. I didn't find myself smiling through one moment of Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie - not one lousy time. (Alanis, dear, you gotta stop believing your own press releases and what the fanzines say about you. You're 24 years old, and you could make a clown kill himself with all this misery talk. Lighten up, for Jah's sake.)

Granted, Morissette might have wanted to move away from the pop circus and create something that was a little more artistic. However, whenever you've built up a strong legion of fans who are expecting to hear more music in a vein they're used to, it would be better to ease into such a transition. Instead, Morissette has jumped head-first into the pool with this one - and there isn't a lot of water down there.

Granted, also, that no matter what Morissette came out with after Jagged Little Pill, it would be held up to the world's most powerful magnifying glass and compared to her previous work. Again, I recognize that Morissette might have wanted to move past the pop song structures of Jagged Little Pill - but that doesn't mean you wipe out all traces to your past. (Then again, she's done this before - how many people know this is actually her fourth album? She had two dance-oriented records released in Canada - and I'm shocked that someone didn't release those in the U.S. to capitalize on her superstardom.)

Oh, it's not that I have anything against Morissette; there were many songs on Jagged Little Pill that I really liked. But Morissette has made a turn for the worse with Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie - and I suspect that I'm not the only person that's going to call Morissette on the carpet for making a move that could equal popularity suicide.

Rating: D

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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© 1998 Christopher Thelen 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.