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Album Review: Alanis Morissette's Flavors of Entanglement

Album Review: Alanis Morissette's Flavors of Entanglement

Most people own one Alanis Morissette album: Jagged Little Pill. For those of a certain age, it's an album that defined our teen angst and shouted to our lovers of yore a loud, angry "F You!"

Alanis went on to record more albums, and some were successful (Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie went platinum three times) while others were not (her last album So-Called Chaos peaked at No. 5 on the Billboard 200 chart), but none were quite as beloved as Jagged.

Some critics have attributed the disappointment of Chaos to Alanis' "domestic bliss" at the time, which now appears to be over as a result of her broken engagement to Ryan Reynolds. I'd like to counter that her recent musical downfalls have occurred because she was the lead producer. With her new album, Flavors of Entanglement, Alanis lets someone else run the show, something she hasn't done since Jagged.

That someone is producer Guy Sigsworth, and he is a breath of fresh air. He takes Alanis in a new direction, closer to the sounds of other artists that he's produced including Imogen Heap, Bjork and Madonna ("What it Feels Like for a Girl"), while not leading Alanis too far astray. Thankfully, this is not a transition like Jewel's disastrous 0304, it's more of a graduation. What results is an Everything but the Girl-esque sound mixed with Morissette's always strong lyrics, which, when combined, result in her strongest album in more than a decade.

To read my initial thoughts of each of the tracks,


  • "Citizen of the Planet": Good introduction to the album, starts quiet and slow, but then grows to a more rocking anthem. When it gets going, it sounds similar in tone to something from Evanescence.
  • "Underneath": This is the first single from the album. It's a safe, logical choice. While the song is smooth and pretty with a catchy chorus, I prefer the video. I'm looking forward to the next single.
  • "Straitjacket": The anger we all remember from Jagged returns. Alanis yells the F word and frequently quips "this sh#t's making me crazy." The anger is offset with an electro-pop '80s sound. Me likey.
  • "Versions of Violence": Starts as a slow and sensuous ballad that transitions into something you'd imagine Bjork rocking in her heyday. One of the best.
  • "Not as We": The first true ballad, where she sings about "starting over again." With the first four tracks so strong and upbeat, this one feels a little out of place. Not a bad song per se, but it would have made more sense at the end of the disc.
  • "In Praise of the Vulnerable Man": This would have been the better follow up to "Versions of Violence." Not quite a ballad, not quite an anthem, this pop-y ditty praises the brave, sexy, and yes, vulnerable man. Moving on.
  • "Moratorium": On first listen, "Moratorium," is one of my favorites on the album. And it's probably the least Alanis-y. It's a serious, but bubbly, electronic song that sounds like it could have been ripped from a Frou Frou album, a band that Sigsworth formed with Imogen Heap.
  • "Torch": Of all of the songs, "Torch" definitely has the the most heartbreaking lyrics. "I miss your smell, and your style, and your pure abiding way. Miss your approach to life, and your body in my bed." The words are coupled with moving guitar and string arrangements. If I weren't at work, this one might make me weepy. Might.
  • "Giggling Again for No Reason": Very Everything but the Girl. Nothing revolutionary, but it has a fun dance vibe.
  • "Tapes": This is where the album starts to come to a close. "Tapes" is a slower ballad where Alanis states that she's "someone easy to leave, even easier to forget." The music itself isn't quite as depressing, the chorus moves along happily.
  • "Incomplete": This is probably my least favorite song on the album. I don't know why, but the beginning reminds me a little of Madonna's "Hey You" (not a good thing!). I would have preferred "Tapes" or "Not as We" to close out the album.

Have you heard the new Alanis yet? If so, what do you think? If not, will you be making the purchase?


Join The Conversation
My-Opinion My-Opinion 8 years
I bought Jagged Little Pill when I was in my 20's and love it just as much now. I can't wait to listen to this one.
Briandiesel Briandiesel 9 years
Overall love this album as much as I loved Supposed Former when it first came out. Versions of Violence is AWE_SOME! Amazing album all around- love the b side 20/20 also. should have been on the album instead of the vulnerable man song. I no likee.
missinglynxx missinglynxx 9 years
I was surprised at how much I love this cd. Here are my thoughts. "If growing up is the process of creating ideas and dreams about what life should be, then maturity is letting go again." - Mary Beth Danielson This quote really resonates with me when thinking of Alanis Morissette's new cd Flavors of Entanglement. In the mid-1990's, Alanis Morisette's Jagged Little Pill sold more than 30 million copies worldwide. She was a force to be reckoned with, an angry angsty voice that was going to tell it like it was with no apologies. Well, Alanis is back with what I feel is her best cd since then and she's still unafraid to put her heart out there on the sidewalk. Only, this time, I feel we are seeing a more mature artist, an artist who has let go of a lot of her pain and one with a lot more self-realization. All this, and it has a beat you can dance to. Producer Guy Sigsworth has done a great job of balancing Alanis' brilliant poetry with an edgy rock dance vibe. "Citizen of the Planet" which opens the cd rocks. I love the way the song accelerates and appreciate the drivng beat incorporating sitars and tablas giving the song an eastern feel. "Underneath", the first single from the cd, immediately takes me to a quieter place. This song is about changing yourself to eventually help change the world. "Straitjacket" has a jagged feel for me and the techno background seems to accentuate the craziness we feel when someone we care about seems to be doing things just to drive us mad. "Versions of Violence" has a bit of a sexy rock feel. I love the textures of the music and Alanis' voice has never sounded better. "Not as We" is one of my favorites. It talks about starting all over again "as I and not as we", "gunshy and quivering". I love the piano here. This song is elegant in its beauty and simplicity and reminds me of Enya. Sometimes we are strongest in our vulnerability. "In Praise of the Vulnerable Man" is simply that, a song celebrating the sexiness of a man who doesn't need all that armor. "Moratorium" - Alanis actually took a break from relationships to breathe and get her focus back. That is what this song explores. It's a way to let go, stop looking outside, stop searching, and re-find yourself, a "breather from the flavors of entanglement". "Torch" gives me chills. Alanis is so relatable in her description of missing someone. "I miss your smell, and your style and your pure abiding way." The guitar is lovely and simply fits the poignancy of someone who says she "never dreamed I would have to lay down my torch for you." The list of all the little and big things we miss when we lose an important relationship is so evocative and so authentic. This is another of my favorites. "Giggling again for no reason" is a fun light dance tune. "Tapes" is all about the stories other people tell us and the voices we hear inside that aren't our own beliefs. It's actually liberating to realize these are untrue. I really like the song "Incomplete". I love its hopeful melody. It ends the cd on an uplifting note. It speaks of all the dreams we have of being complete, being healed, being enlightened. Still, at the same time, it expresses what I feel is the message of the cd. "I have been running so sweaty my whole life urgent for a finish line/I have been missing the rapture this whole time of being forever incomplete." The joy is in the imperfection, in the journey. At a time when digital track purchases are so common, it is rare for me to find a cd that I love completely but Alanis' new cd is just that. It is a solid collection -- rocking, edgy, authentic, flavorful. Alanis has gone through the seriousness of youth and she seems so much more at peace. Flavors of Entanglement explores where Alanis has been and where she is now. There is introspection, reflection, sadness and joy and the cd ultimately soars.
Roccoco Roccoco 9 years
wow she's really looking good!nice Alanis,way to go.
emalove emalove 9 years
I love Jagged Little Pill too...makes me totally nostalgic for my college years, it was so popular then. I would give her new album a try for sure.
californiagirlx7 californiagirlx7 9 years
I am not impressed with the new single. I LOVE Jagged Little Pill though...
bransugar79 bransugar79 9 years
I'm excited to have a new alanis album out. I have jagged little pill of course and supposed former infatuation junkie as well as the third one which I can't rememeber the title of to save my life right now. I love Jagged and the third labum but have only listened to Junkie once all the way through and I wasn't impressed. But that being said I love alanis for her spirit and her honest lyrics. I know she gets a lot of crap for being trite but I think it's nice to have an artist who sings songs you can not only relate to but that makes you feel like she's your best friend and she is standing up for your pain.
Advah Advah 9 years
Thanks Buzz, I can't wait to hear the new album! I'm not a fan of all of her songs, but Jagged and Supposed Former are part of my life.
laneylaney laneylaney 9 years
I am not into the single at all but totally willing to give the rest of the album a try!
Dani17 Dani17 9 years
I bought the album today, I love Alanis. This album does not disappoint, indeed it's quite fabulous. I really love it. I disagree with a few of these reviews of the individual songs, such as I really like Incomplete. You should definitely check it out!
faerymagick15 faerymagick15 9 years
She looks better as she gets older and I have always loved her style.
nat1 nat1 9 years
I love the way she express herself with lyrics. She is an artist whose songs are easy to relate. I would definitely buy her record, just to hear what´s new in her world. And in mine.
satoriv satoriv 9 years
I liked the first single. Not sure if I am going to like this dance vibe in Alanis, but torch seems like a great song.
northofantastic northofantastic 9 years
So far I've only seen the video for Underneath. It was very early in the morning and I hadn't had coffee yet, but I'm pretty sure I liked it. I'd be willing to give the whole album a listen. :)
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