Under Rug Swept
Sulking on a therapy couch comes pretty naturally to Alanis Morissette, whose last two albums consist primarily of feminine proclamations of independence and stories of love lost – or more appropriately, love pissed on. Morissette’s breakthrough album, Jagged Little Pill, showed the big-haired Canadian spitting venom at men everywhere. Her follow-up to Jagged, Supposed Former Infatuation Junky, depicted a simmered-but-still- burning Morissette.
Morissette’s new set, Under Rug Swept, keeps Alanis singing and steers relatively clear of the searing vocals that caused listeners to squint on Jagged Little Pill. While Morissette has made her career singing about love, her songs are generally not silly. Instead, in the past, they have been quite the opposite, with a self-indulgent Morissette bearing her tortured soul for audiences.
Under Rug Swept features Morissette abandoning her collaborator in Glen Ballard, and penning all of the album’s tunes herself. Morissette’s arc of record-making has found the canadian’s sound softening, a trend which began in the interim between Jagged Little Pill and Supposed Former Infatuation Junky.
Chunky power-chords open Under Rug Swept with Alanis’ lengthy list of ideals for “21 Things I Want In A Lover.” The irony-free tune outlines Morissette’s preference in characteristics that she hopes for in her lover. While Morissette usually writes songs about love, the tunes on Under Rug Swept aren’t love songs. Instead, Morissette is complacent and reflective, losing some of her edge. Replacing relational backfirings like “You Oughta Know” (from Jagged Little Pill), Under Rug Swept features tiny train-wrecks of relationships. Alanis confronts her own insecurity with “So Unsexy,” pining about how she “can feel so unsexy for someone so beautiful.” This inexcusable camp continues to pop-up throughout Alanis’ latest batch of on-the-couch confessionals.
Perhaps more unsettling than Alanis’ regressive tendency from her angst-filled tunes to a more melodramatic complacency, is her need to bring the album to some sort of closure via therapeutic purging in “Utopia.” Her need for album-wide resolution is nearly as discouraging as other artists’ inappropriate reaches for album-wide circularity, (fear not, Sir McCartney, Band on the Run is exempt here). Morissette sings about her own utopia in disjointed delivery. The song speaks on a resolute level, proclaiming the rectification of relational turmoil.
Under Rug Swept’s resolution successfully undermines the importance of the tiny-relational problems that don’t sink nearly as deep as the spittoon-puddled lyric “are you thinking of me when you fuck her?” In this candid lack of depth and pain, Alanis’ musical regression barely makes it off the couch for a sandwich, let alone therapy. Isn’t that ironic?