What a smart shot across the bows Alanis Morissette's third album is. 1998's Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie alienated a chunk of the 15 million people that bought her debut, Jagged Little Pill. Yet, after all its predecessor's troubled ranting, the self-produced Under Rug Swept could almost be subtitled How To Win Friends And Influence People.
Some things don't change. Morissette has her lyrical shtick ? the warring sexes and the weakness of men in general ? and there's no shaking her. Yet this time she explores her own teenage relationships, offloading about the predatory nature of older male acquaintances gone by. Perversely, the album's peaks, Hands Clean, Flinch and Precious Illusions, couch the message in some of the most inviting music of her career: lingering choruses, a deftness of touch and, in the case of 21 Things I Look For In A Lover, a trampoline-bouncing guitar riff to detract attention from lyrics packed tighter than a holiday suitcase.
With its uncomfortable candour, Under Rug Swept is a serious business. Yet, with its potential hits, Alanis Morissette has fashioned a lyrical Trojan Horse to be wheeled into unsuspecting homes for months to come. Devious stuff.
Reviewed by Mark Blake