Review Summary: Pretty underrated, actually.
Whaddaya know. It's not as bad as everybody says it is.
Actually, the more I think about it, the more I completely don't get why everybody ragged on this album so hard, and continues to do so. You criticize Jagged Little Pill
for being a pop album with little in the way of real expression masquerading as a feminist statement, and then you criticize the follow-up for being too uncompromising and not having enough hooks? Derp.
Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie
is a sprawling, messy album that sees Morrissette laying herself bare - the nakedness of the "Thank U" video mirrors the plain emotional honesty of this record. The one criticism I hear most often about this album - that she simply crams too many words and too many ideas into every song - rings true, but I don't see it as a flaw. In fact, the sheer density of the songs is usually their greatest strengths. It certainly makes repeated listening worthwhile.
The major flaw for me is related, though; the song lengths. It might not look much on paper, but 4:18 of "Thank U" is a lot, and so is 4:40 of "One", and 4:04 of "Are You Still Mad", and so on. Funnily enough, the one song that definitely doesn't outstay its welcome is the longest on the album - "The Couch" is the album's best song and although it's a completely different beast, it could put up a fight with any of the singles from the previous album. But elsewhere, the skip button greatly improves the listening experience, to the point where shaving a minute from each track puts this on a par with Jagged Little Pill
, just as shaving 2 minutes from each track on Music for the Jilted Generation
makes it a genuine rival to The Fat of the Land
It's odd, given that flaw, that the album flows so well. Initially, on "Front Row" through "The Couch", the effect is one of "You Oughta Know" merging with The Downward Spiral
(or to be more accurate, The Fragile
, although that wasn't to be released until the next year). Then, the ballads kick in. It's here, and with "The Couch", that Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie
really feels like it's taking flight. These songs allow space in the mix, aiming for something more ambient and ethereal, an effect which makes Morrissette's rambling, dense narratives seem more natural. But it just goes on for too long - you naturally expect the album to return to the quasi-industrial territory it starts in, and it doesn't. "Unsent" and "So Pure" are decent enough as stand-alone songs, but they really drag when you're listening to them after 6 other songs that sound more or less the same. The crunching guitars in "Joining You" are a wake-up call, but it's too little, too late - the album has lost its shot at being her best work.
But in spite of whatever faults it might have, I'm really glad this record exists. I mean, how else could her career have gone? Did you really want to her to end up making an album like Liz Phair's self-titled, or Jewel's 0304
? Exactly. Fair play to Alanis for doing what felt right.