Pop Rock, 2020
Such Pretty Forks in the Road—that’s “forks”, let’s not confuse it with something else—sees Alanis Morissette at her most radio-friendly yet since Jagged Little Pill that was released more than 20 years ago. The thing is, her music isn’t exactly the most compelling in its own right. No, it’s always the fiery vocals that sometimes compensate for the trite and verbose lyrics. Just like with Tori Amos, things become quite dull when the artist in question begins to mellow down and lose that fire.
Oh make no mistake, Ms Morissette is still using her songs as her personal TMI dump. The songs here range from postpartum depression (Diagnosis) to her children (Ablaze). Mind you, it’s all about her. In Ablaze, she basically whines about how life sucks and her kids are going to get the taste of that too, but that’s okay as long as they remain “connected” to her. I hope she isn’t saying that she’s going to go all Mommie Dearest on her kids when they are older. Also, some cringe can be had when she describes her boy as a “warrior” “full of energy” while her daughter is “innocence and fire”. She’s going to write a song one day, isn’t she, when her daughter defies her pre-existing gender expectations of that poor girl?
There are some pretty good songs here. She has had a music video made for Reasons I Drink for a good reason: it’s the most deliberately radio-friendly song of the lot. Her and Losing the Plot are exquisitely wrought ballads, while Pedestal has a rousing melody.
Still, listening to this one makes me feel more weary than anything else. Alanis Morissette has been complaining and even bitching about every little thing that sticks to her craw for over 20 years now. Musically, she remains the same as her previous few albums. The overall effect is akin to having to listen to a friend go through a long litany of big and small grievances that I have already heard so many times. After a while, I’m tempted to cut her off and say, “You know, sis, if everything makes you feel grumpy and prickly this much for this long, maybe we should review your life choices.”
I know, maybe angst is Ms Morissette’s brand and she feels like she has to stick to it. After all, in Nemesis, she declares change as her enemy, the subject of the title of the song. Still, 25 years of perpetual grumpy musical menopause gone awry is way too long for anyone to live through. Perhaps a trip outside of her personal bubble for fresh inspiration may do the trick.