I was born in the same year as Alanis, as such, vapid as it might seem, I feel "we've had this inexplicable connection since our youth". A few weeks into this album, and overall I love it.
"Tapes" is for me Alanis at her most resplendent: vulnerable, self-aware, defiant. Opening with lyrical self-deprecation:
"I am someone easy to leave"
you might be tempted to give her a good shake, yet the chorus crashes in with steely sound:
"All these tapes in my head swirl around
Keeping my vibe down
All these thoughts in my head aren't my own
OK, you know she's alright really. The song moves from the gentle diary entries of self-pity to the "snap-out-of-it" refrain. Ironically, it's precisely this constant struggle between lack of vibe and havoc that allows her to flourish musically, that enables this, the finest song on the album, to exist.
"Straightjacket" gets closest to that Jagged Little Pill raging, and proves that Alanis still has that unique talent for making anger just sound so damn good.
Other great flavours include the vibrant "Citizen of the Planet", the dark "Versions of Violence", the indulgent, longing "Torch", the decisive "Moratorium" and the pure, happy "Giggling Again for no Reason"
"Underneath"... I'm still on the fence about this one.
As usual it's the slower tracks (for me) that let the album down. "Not as We" looks great in theory, and on paper, but the reality doesn't quite work.
It's also difficult to get enthusiastic about the last track "Incomplete". Alanis just doesn't convince with this "One day I'll find relief/I'll be arrived" and part of me rather selfishly hopes she doesn't ever arrive, lest all her lyrics are relegated to this kind of low-maintenance optimism, with the music nodding and smiling encouragingly.
Equally, it's hard not to do a double take on "In Praise of the Vulnerable Man" when she croons "why won't you lead the rest of your cavalry home"????? Eh?
Still, whilst other bands from my formative years never even made the transition from my CD pile to MP3, Alanis remains one of the few artists whose albums I look forward to AND love to play. She has yet to genuinely disappoint!