Record Preview: New Alanis!

If there’s one thing that’ll get me writing a Sunday morning post it’s a new Alanis Morissette album. I’m not kidding here; Jagged Little Pill (1995) is one of the few albums, like Michael Jackson’s Thriller (1983), to move 30 million units and still be awesome. While Googling around this morning I found out that a new Alanis record, Flavors of Entanglement (wtf is up with that title?), comes out June 10th and features Guy Sigsworth at the helm. How did I not know this? Sigsworth is one of my favorite producers, getting his start on Seal’s “Crazy” (an undeniably great song), working with Bjork, being a member of Zach Braff darlings Frou Frou, and programming strange, really dramatic, quasi-religious songs for Lamb. It’s an interesting, though not necessarily mind-blowing career. His work often eschews innovation in favor of listenability, which makes complete sense given the kind of artists he works with (ed note: Bjork? Listenable?). Sigsworth is at his best is when wrapping great vocalists (Seal, Bjork, Imogen Heap) in a more interesting sonic space that doesn’t threaten to steal the spotlight. In this way I think much of Sigsworth’s work can be seen alongside the brilliant production that William Orbit did for Beth Orton and what Ben Watt did for Tracey Thorn in Everything but the Girl…

On a first rushed listen of Flavors of Entanglement (I cannot get over the idiocy of this title), it appears as if Sigsworth, some 13 years after the runaway success of Pill, is doing his best to revamp Alanis into Avril Lavigne or even Regina Spektor: the latter’s breakout Begin to Hope is an easy conversational reference point for damn near every girl I know. I can see how a major label, and Alanis herself, might want to capitalize on that. However, where Spektor’s sound was fresh and interesting a few years ago, and even Avril can still sound kickass, here we’re presented with something that sounds flat, dated, and alarmingly irrelevant.

The production would be more at home in the ’90s (hello Trent Reznor and the Chemical Brothers!), and Alanis’s lame attempts to return to the aggression that made her earlier work so immediate feel hilariously hollow here (the juvenile swear-word-extravaganza “Straightjacket” is the best example of both these things). Opener “Citizen of the Planet” is no better, confirming Alanis’s continued interest in vague global politics (remember “Thank you India”?). The song is also a sonic mess of “world music” sythesized sounds and buzzing electric guitars. “Versions of Violence” sounds like Evanescence. The lead single, “Underneath”, puts the album on more solid footing. I actually kind of like it.

I’ll give the whole record a few more listens, perhaps, and let you know my final verdict. Feel free to let me know what you think in the comments, especially if you’ve snagged the leaked version floating around and have listened to the whole thing.

Download: Alanis Morissette - Underneath (lawyer’s takedown)

Download: Mirah - La Familia (Guy Sigsworth Mix)

4 Responses to “Record Preview: New Alanis!”

  1. 1 andre

    This new Alanis song is corporate garbage. Throw her and Warner Bros. in the f-cking compost please. Need I add that they’re pre-selling the “deluxe” version of this album for $30? Why pay when I can listen to this for the next three months over the loud speakers at my local gym?

  2. 2 todd

    because you don’t go to the gym.

  3. 3 andre

    But I sometimes watch VH1.

  4. 4 Chemical Brothers Mp3

    Hi there Guru, I am glad I pressed harder enough until I found chemical brothers mp3, because this post on Preview: New Alanis! at mission freak! was extremely helpful. Just last Tuesday I was pondering on this quite a bit.

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