Alanis Morissette – Havoc And Bright Lights (2012): Review

The truth is, we all want another great Alanis record. She remains one of the few female mainstream singer songwriters that still offer her listeners heartfelt confessionals based on her immediate life experiences. We dip into her “diaries” with pleasure and pain; celebration and consolation. There’s a lyrical sincerity, an assessment of personal and emotional experiences that have obviously mellowed since “Jagged Little Pill” and the 2012 version sees the singer reflecting from the stabilized sanity that comes with recent marriage and motherhood. The resultant record, her first in four years, feels cocooned in the wall of familiarity that comes with simple daily domesticity, and although it would be unfair to call it “Mom Rock”, there is a sense that Morissette is playing within the parameters of what she perceives her audience would want. Bringing back long time cohort Guy Sigsworth to help produce only narrows the level of ambition as the pair aim squarely at the sophisticated and polished sound that waters down the vivid lyrical content we all know Alanis strives for. Where once upon a time she used the music to highlight her angst, these well worn mainstream melodies take away any spark that’s generated from the sentiment.

The worst offender here is the truly dreadful, semi hypocritical “Celebrity” where the singer openly castigates the vacuous “wannabees” who hunt stardom at all costs. Frankly, she’s on shaky ground venting her spleen so carelessly when in reality not far from our memory was a teen singer who openly courted attention for a Juno award winning pop career of her own. It’s a cheap shot to cast stones when you’ve the comfort of over 60 million album sales worldwide, and not admit that at some stage you played the media game to rev up your own celebrity stock. Conversely there are of course moments to savour. The first three songs match anything from her back catalogue and indeed tease the listener into thinking that this could be her greatest recording of the Millennium. The radio friendly single “Guardian”, the fiery “Woman Down”, and the gentle romantic ballad that recalls Karen and Richard Carpenter ( “’Til You”.) The remainder meanders; mid tempo and only fleetingly engaging apart from “Havoc” which is interesting in that the lyrics demand a harder edged more urgent backing and yet the song remains resolutely sedate by comparison.

“Havoc And Bright Lights” is an assured and carefully planned recording aimed at the emotional susceptibilities of long term Alanis fans and those awaiting the next Natalie Imbruglia record.


1 Guardian
2 Woman Down
3 ‘Til You
4 Celebrity
5 Empathy
6 Lens
7 Spiral
8 Numb
9 Havoc
10 Win and Win
11 Receive
12 Edge of Evolution



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