Alanis Morrisette: Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie

NZ Listener

SUPPOSED FORMER INFATUATION JUNKIE, Alanis Morrisette (Maverick/Warners)

Dear Alanis, thank you for your new album. It has been over three years since we last heard from you. It was nice of you to let us know what you’ve been up to and what’s been on your mind. You’ve had your share of heartaches and, as always, you have been more than generous in sharing these with us. But at times I felt uncomfortable; as though I was eavesdropping on your love-life and reading your mail.

Still, this stuff can’t be easy to sing. You must admit, “Are you not burdened by the lack of perspective people have of your charmed life (seemingly)?” and “You’ve been nothing but open-hearted and emotionally available and supportive and nurturing and consummately there for me…” are not lines that roll lightly off the tongue. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not asking for the elegance of Cole Porter; one of the things I love about rock is the way it can elevate the awkward and inarticulate. Did you ever hear Roger Daltrey stutter “Why don’t you all f-f-fade away?” or Kurt Cobain scream “I love you/I’m not gonna crack”? But with you I sometimes wonder if I’m listening to songs or therapy sessions set to a dance track. You’ve even called one song “Couch”. It’s all very California.

So, how do you like LA after your native Ottawa? I guess that’s where you met Marcus, the guy you sing to in “Unsent”, who got you “seriously thinking about spirituality”. Can we thank him also for the eastern musings of “Baba” and “Thank U”, or perhaps you have been taking tips from your label-boss Madonna?

You’re still a vocal chameleon, high and floaty like Sinead O’Connor one moment, low and throaty like Chrissie Hynde the next. And I see Glen Ballard, who produced those Wilson-Phillips hits in the 80s, is still helping out with the music. He keeps it simple and direct, a little like the balance of grungy guitars and dancefloor grooves on Madonna’s recent album. He somehow finds chord changes for words that stubbornly refuse to rhyme or scan.

Alanis, I’ll come clean. I don’t like Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie. For a while I thought the problem was that I’m neither female nor fourteen. Then I realised that to have sold the number of albums you have, there must be plenty of males my age buying them too. Perhaps they’re the same people I hear talking about emotional affairs and discovering their spirituality. Sorry, Alanis. I guess I just can’t be consummately there for you.

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