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Saturday, January 16, 2010

Alanis Morissette: So-Called Chaos


1) Eight Easy Steps; 2) Out Is Through; 3) Excuses; 4) Doth I Protest Too Much; 5) Knees Of My Bees; 6) So-Called Chaos; 7) Not All Me; 8) This Grudge; 9) Spineless; 10) Everything.

This is only slightly weaker than Under Rug Swept, running out of hooks somewhere around the middle, but, otherwise, it is exactly what we have now come to expect from the Queen of generic alt-rock: boring arrangements, honest verbosity, and non-annoyingly catchy choruses. However, before we proceed, I must, from a transparently philological point of view, object to the title of song number four.

Dear Alanis: it is very nice that you know your Shakespeare, but, for your information, 'doth I protest' is seriously ungrammatical, since 'doth' is, by all means, third person singular, never first. And if you are actually aware of that, then you are either insulting the intel­ligence of your audiences, or presuming that your basic audiences are unintelligent in the first place. In the latter case, you could have considered using your songs as «edutainment». How about singing some­thing like 'Do I protest too much? Say 'doth I' and be out of touch with classic English grammar as such!' Surely this would have been very progressive and refreshing compared with inviting your audiences to take one more traditional walk in the depths of your soul.

Now that I have gotten that off my chest, 'Doth I Protest Too Much' is a nice song (I like how she starts relying more and more on Byrdsey guitar jangle), and so are the loud rockers 'Eight Easy Steps', 'Excuses', and 'Knees Of My Bees', particularly the latter, conti­nuing to combine grunge guitars with Eastern influences, but in a more upbeat manner than previously.

Later on, the album starts sagging under the weight of unfocused ballads, and the rockers start repeating the same atmospheres and even melodies — e. g., 'Spineless' does not say anything that 'Excuses' have not already said. It is also very hard to understand why the album's worst song ('Everything') had been selected as the lead-off single. The singing is passionate, the guitars shine and glisten, the atmosphere is suitably anthemic and confessional at the same time, and, presumably, the song meant a lot to Morissette, but it has no commercial value whatsoever (and the melody is weak, so it may have little artistic value either). 'Excuses' and 'Knees Of My Bees' would have worked far more convincingly.

It does put a stop to criticisms about Alanis' «selling out» that were occasionally voiced by main­stream reviewers, just because, on the whole, So-Called Chaos is «lighter» and «livelier» and «happier» than its predecessors — at least, that is what people used to call it, seeing as how Ala­nis had finally overcome her personal problems and settled into a (relatively) quiet family life. I am not sure. I do not see how it is at all possible for Alanis to «sell out» — unless she reverts to being the Alanis of 1992 — and I did not see that much darkness on Under Rug Swept, either. Besides, what do we care whether she releases a «dark» or a «light» album? She is just not all that interesting as a person to make me involved in her yin and yang. She does write catchy melo­dies, and she seems like a nice, honest, moderately intelligent little lady. What else is in it for me? No­thing.

Thumbs up, unless you insist on analyzing her lyrics — but I have made a solemn oath not to pay attention to what exactly she is going to teach me «in eight easy steps». I do like the line 'I could be an asshole of the grandest kind', though. That's one perfect way to initiate your lead-off single.

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