Her eighth studio album, 'Havoc and Bright Lights', finds seven-time Grammy Award winner Alanis Morissette calm, composed and with the angst that defined her early efforts absent
ALANIS MORISSETTE/ HAVOC AND BRIGHT LIGHTS
Alanis Morissette's 1995 international debut Jagged Little Pill has gone down in history as one of the best rock albums of the '90s. If you grew up during that period, chances are you shrieked along to the wonderfully angst-ridden You Oughta Know more times than you could count. With a slew of hits that followed, such as Ironic, Hand in My Pocket, You Learn and Head Over Feet, the album quickly became a worldwide phenomenon, scooping six Grammy Awards, going platinum in several countries and making Rolling Stone's lists of "Women in Rock: The 50 Essential Albums" and "The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time".
Since then, Morissette has continued to release albums with varying degrees of success, from the mostly decent Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie, Alanis Unplugged and Under Rug Swept to the rather lacklustre So-called Chaos and Flavors of Entanglement, the 2008 album born out of her break-up with fellow Canadian, actor Ryan Reynolds, to whom she was engaged for three years.
Now married with a son, she's basking in domestic life and motherhood, events that essentially kick-started her eighth studio album Havoc and Bright Lights. Compared to Jagged Little Pill, her latest drastically pales in comparison in the angst department. Take, for example, the opening track Guardian, where she sings in clear dedication to her role as a mother. And as you can imagine, the similar mood and tone is sustained throughout the album, especially on ballads such as 'Til You, Empathy and Havoc.
There are, however, darker and edgier moments here and there to remind us of the enraged Morissette. The prime examples are Celebrity, the stern affront to fame in which she likens herself to "a tattooed, sexy, dancing monkey", and a slice of feminist angst on the electro-pop Woman Down whose lines "Calling all lady haters/Why must you vilify us/Are you willing to clean the slate?" are better suited to pop divas such as Kelly Clarkson or Pink.
Havoc and Bright Lights is not the artist's attempt to stage a comeback or emulate the colossal success of Jagged Little Pill. Rather, it's Morrissette's portrayal of her life as a wife and a mother. This is one of those records that seem to be tailor-made for those idle moments. She's angst-free and at her most liberated, which is an appropriate way going forward for her career, because frankly, in this day and age, nobody has the time to listen to artists whingeing any more.
Greasy Cafe/ Pa Son Nai Hong Mai Lek Neung
After having dabbled in acting in Kongdej Jaturansaramee's movie P-047, Apichai Trakulpadejkrai, or Lek Greasy Cafe, continues to make an impression with the abstractly titled single Pa Son Nai Hong Mai Lek Neung (Pine Forest in Room No1). The song, also the film's official soundtrack, is a poignant piano-driven rock ballad that slowly builds into an eruptive chorus with the help of the emotive drums. ''I'm right here/Where we used to exist/I'm right here/Where time also doesn't exist,'' Lek sings in his brutally earnest vocals which have the power to make the most hard-hearted of us weep.
Bob Dylan/ Duquesne Whistle
It's been five decades in the business and legendary American singer-songwriter is still going strong with the upcoming release of his 35th studio album, Tempest. The first single, Duquesne Whistle, sees the iconic artist recreating a rollicking scene as if in some speakeasy back in the 1930s. The muffled folk-inspired intro reminds us of a sound from an old jukebox. ''Listen to that Duquesne whistle blowing/Blowing like it's gonna sweep my world away/I'm gonna stop in Carbondale and keep on going,'' Dylan takes over with his signature raspy timbre over bluesy guitars and subtle organ. Yes, the man's still got it.
The Veronicas/ Lolita
It's been five years since we last heard anything from the Aussie twin sisters Jessica and Lisa Origliasso, aka the Veronicas. The duo follows up the worldwide success of their second album Hook Me Up with a new single called Lolita. The track, taken from their third studio effort Life on Mars, has the Origliassos reinterpreting the role of Nabokov's protagonist, essentially turning her into a vixen. Given accompanied thumping beat and askew synth breakdowns, it's definitely leaning towards the more dancey side of things rather than the band's usual pop-rock sound. And trust us, they're all the better for it.
Calvin Harris (featuring Florence Welch)/ Sweet Nothing
After working his magic on Welch's Spectrum (Say My Name), Calvin Harris teams up again with the pop goddess on Sweet Nothing, a built-for-dancefloor (and music charts) number Harris is more than capable of churning out. Featured on Harris' forthcoming third album, 18 Months, the track is a perfect marriage between his trademark electro-dance crescendo and Welch's impassioned warble. The lines, while lacking Flo's usual macabre imagery, seem to be penned exclusively for her to sing: ''So I'll put my faith in something unknown/I'm living on such sweet nothing/But I'm tired of hope with nothing to hold/I'm living on such sweet nothing.''
Devlin (featuring Ed Sheeran)/ Watchtower
British underground-grime-artist-turned-chart-topper Devlin releases Watchtower, the first single from his second album, A Moving Picture. The song features guest vocals courtesy of English pop wunderkind Ed Sheeran who, by the way, must be commended for agreeing to take on such a lofty task of sampling Hendrix's version of Bob Dylan's All Along The Watchtower. Fortunately, he pulls it off. His vocal delivery goes hand in hand with Devlin's slick verses, making the end product a hard-hitting piece of grime-rock that recalls earlier material by nu-metal bands like Linkin Park and Limp Bizkit.
About the author
Writer: Chanun Poomsawai