Jagged Little Pill, by Alanis Morissette
Suggested by Sara-Jane Davies
There are some phrases we can no longer use.
No, I’m not talking racial slurs (“It’s just called a ‘shop’ now, Grandad”}. I’m talking phrases that have been rendered unfit for purpose by dint of their attachment to a wider media. They appear in a film, or a song, and they take on unwelcome contextual associations.
For example, let’s consider the following sentence:
“So my ex-fiancé is a firefighter, but if your house is on fire, who you gonna call?”
If your brain didn’t answer that question with an immediate “Ghostbusters!”, I’d wager you’re not human.
Or consider this:
“Why the hell is there dogshit all over my patio? Who let the dogs out?”
There are loads of these muzzled and co-opted words, presented without intention but injecting humour where it’s not appropriate. And since the mid Nineties, Alanis Morissette has been responsible for one of the biggest… isn’t it ironic, don’t you think?
Whenever there’s so much as a sniff of the word ‘ironic’, my mind can’t help complete the phrase and then belt out “IT’S LIKE RAAAYAYAAIIN” like a diva possessed. I’m transported to a land of black flies in Chardonnay, to traffic jams when I’m already late, and to my upcoming yet imaginary nuptials, at which the Met Office reliably inform me that it’s gonna piss it down.
Ed Byrne said it best, back in the day: “What do you need this knife for? To stab the bastard who keeps leaving spoons all over your house?”
As I’m likely the only person alive who lived through the nineties and didn’t listen to this album, I’m pleasantly surprised at how many songs I recognised. All I Really Want, You Oughta Know, Hand In My Pocket, You Learn, Head Over Feet, and of course Ironic… each one had genuine lastability and great singalong hookwork. Alanis’s voice is mannered and stylish, never wanting for character or emotional resonance. There’s a bit of Bjork and Kate Bush in parts, and a welcome touch of gruffness that marinates the angsty lyrics and gives them a spitting, poisonous touch, while also keeping the glistening schmaltz at bay in the slower tracks.
Another great boon of this album is the fact that there’s really no reduction in quality between the shoutout singles and the dedicated album tracks. My personal favourite is You Oughta Know, not Ironic, but the non-single Not The Doctor is surprisingly good, considering its position in the Morissette canon.
I give Jagged Little Pill a worth 8/10, as it’s packed with glorious parcels of musical angst delivered with style and verve. It was everywhere in the Nineties, so my joy shouldn’t be a surprise. But the biggest single of Alanis’s career, Ironic, is beaten to my choice of standout track by a single that did a lot worse in the charts… now isn’t that ironic?
Don’t you think?
IT’S LIKE RAAAYAYAAAIIINNN…