#SRCZ Album Flashback #31 // Alanis Morissette – Jagged Little Pill
Jagged Little Pill, despite the assumptions you may make, was not the debut album of Alanis Morissette. In many ways though, it was a huge step forward from her previous work. In fact, it’s arguably her best album…
Its 1995, the music industry is busy, as ever, looking about for the next big thing. Whatever that was intended to be, Jagged Little Pill was perhaps not the record many would have imagined would be said big thing. Together with Glen Ballard, the ever active Alanis Morissette created a landmark recording when they produced Jagged Little Pill.
Twenty years after its release, the record has barely aged. The often raw emotions on very vivid audio display are still as strong, the lyrics still as visual and biting as they were intended to be. The artist may have moved on, producing a string of successful but arguably not as satisfying records, but this was the music that caught the ears of many and deservedly so.
There’s always a risk in so-called ‘confessional’ rock of revealing way too much but on Jagged Little Pill, it worked perfectly. The right balance of statement and emotion ensured it never got too cloying or self-obsessed and the fact that may were put off by the frankness of some lyrics only serves to show what went right. The songs are never outwardly personal, always open for the listener to take their own meaning from and that is perhaps one key point in it’s success.
On tracks such as opener All I Really Want and the often parodied Ironic there is, underneath the seriousness, a hidden sense of fun as evidenced in the arrangement of the songs. The moment in All I Really Want where the music stops for a beat, with the lyric, ‘Here can you handle this...’ is one moment that still works on later listening, a half-joking challenge for the person the song addresses.
As the album progresses we get possibly the most famous line from the album, taken from the powerful and scarily calm stream of consciousness flow of You Oughtta Know. That line is, of course ‘…and are you thinking of me when you fuck her?’ and although twenty years ago that was still mildly shocking to some ears it’s grown into itself to sound perfectly reasonable in an odd kind of way now. As break up songs go, though, it’s still up there with the best.
There is though, a moment on the album that transcends all the darker themes and topics of the record and it comes a minute or so after Wake Up, the closing track. That moment is the a capella hidden track Your House, detailing a sneaky visit to a (ex?) lover’s house in their absence and it’s a touching and smile inducing song that you’ll know if you’ve navigated the tricky world of hunting hidden tracks on albums.
A later acoustic release of the album, with some subtle updates, was perhaps somewhat unnecessary in retrospect. Listening to Jagged Little Pill now there are some minor traces of the time it was created in but its timeless themes of break up, religion and frustration with life are still perfectly valid.