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2004 saw Alanis Morissette release her 4th (6th if you count the two 'pop' albums she released in Canada) studio album. 'So Called Chaos' was the follow-up to the moderatly successsful 2001 album 'Under Rug Swept' which spawned two singles in the UK. 'So Called Chaos' is an 11 track album and tries to be a bit more mainstream than her previous albums. There's plenty of guitar on this album, lots of rock, some haunting ballads and once again she sounds like a one woman dictionary with her extensive and somewhat confusing vocabulary, but I think that is definitly appealing for any Morissette fan.
Opening song 'Eight Easy Steps' is a fast paced pop song. It's a very energetic song and leaves you feeling exhausted afterwards. It's such a brilliant opening song and a great statement on the album. The song itself is showing that Alanis is dysfunctional but very knowing of it and she's basically saying "Yeah I have flaws but I'm amazing anyway!". Although it wasn't released as a single in the UK, it was in American and had a fantastic video acccompaning it, it shows Alanis in present time singing the song and going backwards through all her music videos right until the start of her life. Very clever. 10/10.
'Out Is Through' is the second song on the album. This became the albums second single in the UK. It's more of a 'guitar-y'' and I was very much suprised when they chose to release it as a single (saying that though, Alanis never ususually picks the right songs to release on her later albums!). It's got a great chorus though and a nice message about how you must go through the tough times in order to find peace at the end. 9/10.
'Excuses' is my FAVOURITE song on the album. I would describe it as a light guitary breezy pop song full of energy. The song is about making excuses to keeping yourself safe and warm. Core Alanis fans will notice that the ending of this song is the same as her song on her 'Unplugged' album 'No Pressure Over Cappucinno', whether this was intentional or not Alanis has never said but it definatly works better for this song. Shame it never made it to being a single as this could've been a big mainstream hit. Perfect driving song. 10/10.
'Doth I Protest Too Much', when I first heard the album this song stuck out to me, I liked the way it just keep 'rolling along'. It's much slower than the previous three songs on the album. I think the song is about allowing your boyfriend to 'goggle' at other women but don't show any jealousy - hence the title of the song. 8/10.
'Knees Of My Bees' - Uh-oh Alanis and her weird song titles keep coming. I think this is the first semi- dissapointing song on the album. The song has a catchy chorus but I have no idea what the song is about. Definatly a 'marmite' song. 6/10.
'So Called Chaos' - The title track on the album, Alanis usually uses song lyrics to name her albums so this is a complete change. The song itself is kind of 'moody' and 'angry' where she is claiming she wants to 'run naked through the streets' and 'invite this so-called chaos that you thin I dare not be'. I think here she is singing about her fame and not being able to be 'normal' although she appreciates her success. For a while I tended to skip this song on the album but recently i've grown to it. It's not a highlight by any means but it fits in very well on the album. 7/10.
'Not All Me' - I really like this song. It's about not taking the whole blame in a relationship. Brilliant song 9/10.
'This Grudge' - A very mellow song now. It's about Alanis holding a grudge for many many years now and maybe realising that this is the time that she let go. Could it be about the guy mentioned in 'Jagged Little Pill?'. 10/10.
'Spineless' - A weird one here, maybe a little sarcastic too. Alanis is bowing down to her boyfriend and being a spineless fool like so many people end up being in relationships. We all know Alanis could never be like that! Anyway, it's a nice fun song and definitly worth checking out 8/10.
'Everything' - We reach the final song on the album and this was the first single. It's a slow track, very MOR and a poor choice to lead the album. The song isn't bad thought but it's not the Alanis I like, she's in a relatonship here and is happy happy happy! I prefer angry Alanis when she really has SOMETHING to be angry about. 8/10.
A great effort. There isn't really a bad song on here, the album has lots of varity to it and is a very radio friendly album.
So called chaos is what I like to call "the Alanis I know". I am a huge Alanis Morissette fan - but I am quite objective about her as I think she has had a few bum tunes out in the past. So fear no longer - I shall not be doing any unjustified bum licking. 'So Called Chaos' doesn't exactly break any ground musically but typically it offers the Alanis trademark, quirks, warbles and awesome melodies. The thing I love about this artist is that she's not afraid to grow and develop and mature throughout the years, constantly re-inventing herself and she uses her own experiences as a vessel to create art (music) - sometimes it's good, sometimes it's bad. I like to take the good and the bad. It makes you appreciate the good more because when she's on form she is utterly there. Anyway, enough kooky thoughts for now.
So the album was released in 2004. It is a much more concentrated and focused album with quite a sensible grown up feel to it. I think in this album Alanis seems less "out of control" like she has been in other albums. She sounds like she is grounded and really sure of herself and quite self aware. "I don't notice your sideways glances or where your loyalty lies I'm secure and out of me it's hard to get a rise" From "Doth I protest too much". It's like she has learned from her previous mistakes and the realization of this is so eloquent. I was pleased that this album wasn't full of yelling, yes Alanis, at times you do protest too much.
With this release of this album, Alanis had a complete makeover of her look with a serious haircut and glamorously cool casual look -I quite liked the new look and I think the sound of this album is good enough to go with it. In this album there are really thought provoking songs and intelligent lyrics - albeit not quite so poetic as some of her previous work.:"You see everything, you see all my light and you love my dark." -Spineless.
The album on the whole seems to me to have a very upbeat thing going on, from the pretty smiling photos of Alanis on the cover to the singing - which has a lot less RAGE than former albums. Although in studying the lyrics I'm not sure whether the messages contain any less rage!
The opening track, "Eight Easy Steps," is a fast paced rocky number which incorporates some Oriental and Asian influences. On top of this, the verses are really catchy and the choruses are head bangingly good too! It's full of sarcastic satire of being a hypocrite. It's a weird concoction but somehow it all works and this opening track hooks you in and you are spellbound by the potions and spells to follow. A fab way to start.
(The Oriental influence is a recurring theme throughout the album and helps to keep the consistent flow throughout the album . It gives it an indie feel.)
"Out Is Through" doesn't let you down. It's not too fast or too slow. It's kind of poppy rock style - very catchy. The lyrics are simply amazing. (I think lyrics are what she does best). They really make sense - the only way to help yourself out is to go through the difficult times. (not avoid them and sweep them under the carpet) Her voice is enchanting and the melody strong. It's a little gem of a song.
"Excuses" This one took me more "listens" before I got into it compared to the other tracks on this record, but it grew on me. But the more I listened to it, the more I realised how clever the lyrics and melody were. The intro, starts slow and then builds, it is about what the title says; making excuses. The lyrics are inspirational. This song is played at it's best in the car when driving over hills, on bendy road and on straight roads where you can put the foot down!
"Doth I Protest Too Much" is my favourite song on the album. It's a "famous Alanis" - A situation where she is raging with jealously and anger - but in this particular number she pretends she isn't. Putting on a brave face which so many people can relate to. It's a humorous take on trying to fit into a relationship. The chorus is brilliant. So simple, but only she could write it.
"Knees Of My Bees" hmmmm I have tried and tried and I just don't get the lyrics of this song "You make the knees of my bees weak, tremble and buckle. You make the knees of my bees weak" I can't get my head round it. I'm sure it's a pun of the colloquial expressions "you are the bee's knee's" and "head over heels". I think she was inspired when she was in love the actor Ryan Reynold. I do like this song but for me it doesn't show her at her best. There is a beautiful sitar used in this track.
"So-Called Chaos," the album's title track, is a bit of a beast. It starts off quite disconcerting with vocals that stop and start, but once the chorus kicks in it gets going with a bit more rocky. I think this is my least favourite track - it's a bit too trashy and grungey for my liking. The lyrics are clever though. It's about keeping up with society's standards and rules when you just want to break the rules and be free.
"Not All Me" This was an instantly loveable one for me. It's about not being 100% to blame for someone else guilt and accusations and issues. It opens with a stunning synth intro and the chorus is really catchy too. I love what happens in the background with this track - the accompanying music is fabulous. This is the only track that I would say on this track is a tad repetitive though.
"This Grudge" one of my favourites. It's a fabulous ballad. In this one Alanis sings of a grudge that she holds, but wait a minute - not with a past-lover, but with HERSELF!!! It's autobiographical. This song means a lot to me. The lyrics are honest as she sings, "But who's it hurting now? Who's the one that's stuck? Who's it torturing now, with an antique knot in her stomach?" She attacks her own self, still holding pain and grudges from 1995, and it's as if she's finally accepting it, becoming aware of it and letting go. (issues which inspired past hits such as "You Oughta Know" and "Hands Clean.")
"Spineless" is a track in which Alanis makes vows to change herself to fit with her new lover - "I'll be opinionless and silent" to everything he says and does. This is another gem of a rocker. It describes those among us who dive into a relationship and totally give up everything for that other person (including themselves) - scared to "rock the boat". This is about resisting that temptation.
The album closes the lead single "Everything." One of my favourites - a mid-tempo track about unconditional love. The message is as simple as that. Having someone who sees the beauty in you, but who also accepts the warts too, and still loves you and stands by you. I love the braveness and honesty in the lyrics and the bridge, "I can be an asshole of the grandest kind" is the first line - love it!
In this album she continues to be innovative and relevant in today's society. She so easy to acess and relate to. She's been through it too, and when she shares her art with us, she makes us feel quite safe like a long lost friend
Alanis's voice is much calmer than it was in the Jagged little Pill, Supposed Former Infatuated Junkie days. The ear splitting yet gorgeous high notes are a sparce but the tunes do win you over. If you weren't a fan of Alanis before because of her anger expressed in her earlier albums then don't fear. I think the sounds of this album are somewhat more palatable.
I get annoyed with Alanis and her lyrics as they are sometimes so simple and I wish id thought of them myself!
Overall a highly recommended effort - it's catchy and real. It's just a shame commercial success didn't match up to Jagged Little Pill or even Supposed Former Infatuated Junkie for that matter. I think this album was released in the UK the same time Avril Lavignes album was so Alanis didn't quite get the press she deserved for this album. She is one of the 90s greatest survivors. A testament to her unstoppable creativity and unique talent.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Eight Easy Steps
2 Out Is Thru
4 Doth I Protest Too Much
5 Knees Of My Bees
6 So Called Chaos
7 Not All Me
8 This Grudge