You know, the real problem with Alanis Morissette is the weight of expectancy that surrounds her. Her listeners can be broken down into three groups; those who are perpetually annoyed by her nasal whinning but pay attention to put her down. Those catharic-induced fans eager to snap up anything the goddess throws them. And those caught in the middle, appreciating her simplistic wit yet baffled by her creative ennui. Her ditzy pop albums add fuel to first group's fire and "Jagged Little Pill" was wholeheartedly--albeit mistakenly-- embraced by the second as a riot-grrrl statement. The third group really comes in where "Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie" is concerned.
It's fitting that such a crucial album to her spiritual growth would be embraced by those new listeners who grew with her out of the natural progression from resentment to love. Even those still awaiting "You Oughta Know Pt.2" can settle down to the opus' calm, restive manner. Even the blandest of fan will realise how much her trip to India influences every tweak, lyric and vibe of the album. It blossoms into the celebration of life, past occurences, friendship and love. "Front Row" opens the album up on a deceptive poppy vibe; you think Alanis has discovered funk, but it really is a ploy to lure your ear into a deeper listening.It's a relationship under scrutiny and the resolvement of it. It also features some pretty quotables like,"I'd like you to be schooled and in awe/ as though you were kissed by God/ full on the lips." and " I am totally short of breath for you/ why can't you shut your stuff off." That's always been a strenght of Morissette; her use of language is sufficient to take away her lack of musical insight. Many will wrongfully say that she has grown lyrically since her last full lenght release but that's not so. The music on "Junkie" is just weaker so it reinforces her wit.
"Jagged Little Pill" had more melody and harsh effect and better songs actually. I don't know if she'll ever do a great song like "Forgiven" again but I do know that it's not on "Junkie". That said, the album rocks inspite of its modest intentions."I Was Hoping" crunches out electronic beats a mile a minute, with great usage of synths and her usual rambling vocals. It's also smart in a way most female rockers can't be. In all honesty, Alanis is truly a poet...meaning that her works look--to paraphrase"One"-- good on paper, sound good in theory. It's when she has to bring it across with music that it can sputter out. However, one song that was not supposed to work, but oddly enough does, is "The Couch". While it's about therapy, it takes a twist when the psychologist decides to tackle his/her own demons. It's a joy to hear Morissette spill such personal revealations like, " I've got a loving supportive wife/ who doesn't know how involved she should get/ you say his interjecting / was him calling me on my s_it?"
But for all her good intentions, "Your Congratulations" doesn't work. It's abstract, whinny and overbearing to the point where, even the singer realises that mid-way that, there is no way she's gonna pull it off. But that's the gamble Morissette has taken with "Junkie". Her trip to India allowed her time to find herself as a person and her every word is testament to that. If you've ever suffered a traumatic experience or feel you're struggling to keep up with the hectic pace of modern times, then you know what she went through and relax with the album, despite its many flaws. Besides, it's not all sitars and good intentions; "Unsent" is a nice , novel way of her recalling the loves of her life; "Joining You" threatens to wreak bloodshed with the guitar over a friend threatening to kill themself. It's repetative like the bulk of the songs here, but it holds the best statement of intent from her, "we want to know why and how come about everything/ we want to reveal ourselves at will and speak our minds/ and never talk small or be intuitive/ my tortured beacon/ we need to find like-minded companions."
It's not a great album but one we will look back on , say the next ten years, and think it was misunderstood and deeper than it really was.