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Alanis Morissette – Havoc and Bright Lights

Beki Kidwell


It’s easy to still distinguish Alanis Morissette as that twenty-something hippy with a taste for political activism, songs about women’s rights and world peace. Yet, although her third studio album Jagged Little Pill still sits proudly in my top ten albums of all time, the release of her eighth studio album Havoc and Bright Lights on August 28th 2012 exposes Morissette as a more mature woman and far more self-assured musician.

In tracks such as Havoc I hardly even recognised her iconic voice, yet that may have been a one off, with tracks Numb and Edge of Evolution revealing her powerful lungs once again. The best way to describe the album is ‘hit and miss’. It seems that mostly every song is either way over the top or completely boring – Guardian opens the album with a U2-esque guitar riff and Morissette belting out a chorus about being an angel to what I can only imagine is her little girl. Which is truly lovely – heart-warming even, but after a few more songs along the same note, it starts to become quite monotonous. Ending track Magical Child for example, hears Morissette sing matter-of-factly about an “Angelic child/Innocent child/Magical child/Essential child”, which honestly makes me want to calm her down a bit and tell her that we get it, she seriously loves her child. Still, her voice is undeniably brilliant and the songs are more than perfectly executed, with each instrument sounding meticulous and steady.

In saying that, there really isn’t much excitement throughout the 14-track album to keep hold of listener’s ears long enough to even begin thinking about what the band sound like. The lyric “I am a tattooed, sexy, dancing monkey” in track Celebrity was the first thing to really grab my attention enough for me to Google it, to see if that really is what she’d just said. Numb is a song that I have recently described as a sort of less hard-core take on a Lacuna Coil track – I can even imagine Morissette standing on a stormy beach with long black robes flying behind her while she waves her arms wildly in the air.

On a more positive note however, Woman Down (my favourite track from the album) is a song that could’ve easily been recorded around the same time Jagged Little Pill was released. It’s strong, yet down to earth and Morissette doesn’t fail to mix modern dance beats with an almost 80’s glam-rock undertone. Renowned for her exaggerated American accent, her voice really hasn’t changed that much since the beginning of her brilliant career – but sadly, this seems the only thing that hasn’t changed. I’m all for developing with the times, but with slow, almost lacklustre tracks like ‘til You, Win and Win and Will You Be My Girlfriend? shining a light on her new sound for 2012, I’m sceptical about whether Havoc and Bright Lights will truly end up becoming one of the more prominent albums of her career.


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