Review - Alanis Morissette - Havoc and Bright Lights
Alanis Morissette’s career has seen some of the highest highs and lowest lows of almost anyone out there. Her breakout album, ‘Jagged Little Pill’, would go on to sell over 30 million copies around the world and would win her the coveted Album of the Year trophy at the Grammys in 1996. Since then, she has slowly slid further and further down the charts. Granted she’s never had anything less than a top ten album, but from the highest of #1s to #8 (where he last album debuted and peaked) is a bit of a tumble.
What I love to see is that Alanis doesn’t even seem to take it in stride – she seems not to even notice. At no point has she brought in big producers and changed things up to accommodate trends or the charts. Alanis is Alanis, and damn everything else, she’s going to do her. I love artists that insist on being themselves no matter what. Well, usually I do. There are some terrible musicians out there who won’t listen to anything anyone says. They’re too busy making their ‘art’.
Thank god Alanis isn’t one of those people. ‘Havoc and Bright Lights’ is what she’s been doing all along, and while it won’t make much of an impact on the charts (it has reached the top 40 on the adult pop charts), her fans will love it. You can identify an Alanis track the minute you hear it, even if that particular tune has never reached your ears before (which it most likely hasn’t). Morissette (which is a damned hard name to spell, and I ended up spelling a total of six different ways in the writing of this review) is unique, and nothing else in the music industry comes close to her.
‘Havoc’ sees her pulling out all her old tricks, only more grown up. The inspirational bits on “Til You” are the best for adult contemporary radio, á la Natasha Beddingfield’s “Unwritten”, only not that cool. “Win and Win” has the flavor that tracks like “8 Easy Steps” introduced us to (her obsession with sitar is apparent). A lot of what’s in here is the great rockish/popish strong-woman genre that she has created and developed over the years (with that lovely hippie flare that you either dig or hate).
My one criticism: what’s with the weird industrial moments? “Celebrity” and “Numb” don’t fit in to Alanis’ sound or this album. “Woman Down” finds her dabbling in the same beats, but guitars come in and bring it all together in an interesting and unexpected way. Cut those two and we’ve got ourselves some real cohesion.
Listen to: “Guardian”, “Woman Down”, “Til You”