Maverick / Reprise, 1996
Hugely popular when it was released, but this was in the middle of my pop-music exile in the mid 90s and I waited six years before hearing it all the way through. It's not as shouty and grrrl-ish as it's sometimes made out to be, sitting firmly in the soft rock style rather than punk. Alanis's voice is strong, but its slightly nasal and stubbornly vibrato-free tone might annoy a lot of people. Along with her little mannerisms, but they're not overdone, except perhaps on "All I Really Want", where the little yelps at the end of most of the phrases mar an otherwise fantastic song.
"You Oughta Know" was a song that needed to be written, echoing with a million messy breakups everywhere. Along the way, more bile is directed at various bastards, for example on "Right Through You" and "Not the Doctor". Thankfully these are mingled with mellow ballads such as "Perfect" and "Mary Jane". "Ironic", despite the bashing it got from hordes of tedious student linguists, has a powerful rock-pop chorus, like something T'Pau might have done a few years earlier. Her list-making style of lyrics also features on "Hand In Your Pocket" Among the remaining tracks there's too much plain soft radio-rock, but it's a fairly long album and the decent stuff outweighs the filler.
June 22, 2004