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Alanis Morissette - Under Rug Swept Print E-mail
Tuesday, 26 February 2002

Alanis Morissette

Under Rug Swept
format: CD
label: Maverick
release year: 2002
performance: 8
sound 8
reviewed by: Dan MacIntosh

ImageIsn't it ironic how Morissette complains about narcissistic men in "Narcissus," when there isn't a more narcissistic singer/songwriter than Alanis in the whole known universe? Heck, someone who writes a song called "Ironic" should at least know better. Elsewhere, the song "So Unsexy" is like one long self-talk in front of the bathroom mirror, where Morissette can be heard musing as if the whole world revolved around little old her. It’s as if she is playing Narcissus taking a potty break.

"Narcissus" completely fails in its attempt to teach men how to become more female-friendly, since it plays upon broad stereotypes too general for even an Oprah-like daytime talk show. "21 Things I Want In A Lover" is also a rant against male inferiority, with a pop rock guitar part not unlike Quarterflash, and sports the kind of wife-like nagging that would scare most average men far away from Morissette's lair.
Morissette misses the point that since -- oh, I don't know, around about Adam and Eve --humankind, the girls and the boys have always been letting each other down. It's not the fault of the man or the woman. We both bit the big one (that Forbidden Fruit) and we're all guilty. Period.

It's especially demeaning when Morissette seemingly takes on the role of a repentant man with "A Man." The last thing menfolk need is to have Alanis Morissette speaking on their behalf. Morissette communicates best when she's being reflective, rather than reactive. "Flinch," which is quietly sung over gently swaying guitars and keyboard, speaks of that almost invisible point where one gets over the emotional affect of a past lover. "Soon I'll grow up and I won't even flinch at your name," she sings. It results in a rarely explored perspective on difficult post-relationship circumstances.

The piano ballad "That Particular Time" hearkens back to classic '70s Elton John music. Although its lyric is much more straightforward than anything Bernie Taupin ever wrote, it features a melody somewhat similar to "Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me." Instead of playing the revengeful cat, with claws bared, Morissette shrinks into a vulnerable kitten when she sings, "In the meantime I lost myself/I'm sorry I lost myself."

On "Hands Clean," Morissette gets personal – perhaps a little too personal -- with a song about when older men took advantage of her youth and inexperience. She sings about how "this could get messy," and she ain’t kidding about that. When she sings -- from a sleazeball's perspective -- "Ooh don't go telling everybody/and overlook this supposed crime," it's almost too introspective for comfort.

"Utopia" has an English folk music feel to it with its acoustic guitar and formally sung vocals. On it, Morissette is neither prosecutor nor defense attorney, but instead one who speaks out for the universal good of all. She describes her utopia as a place where "we would all breathe and be charmed and amused by difference."

It’s a rare warm statement from Alanis, the kind we don’t hear nearly often enough from the singer. But then again, without her patented contentiousness, she really wouldn't be Alanis Morissette any longer, now would she?

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