Album Review: Alanis Morissette – Havoc and Bright Lights


Alanis Morissette is never going to scale the heights that Jagged Little Pill elevated her to. It’s just not possible. That album was a rare being that unexpectedly found it’s way into history due to it’s raw passion and relatability. It’d be rather rude of us all to relegate Alanis into the state of frustration that bore the record for the rest of her life, right? So here we have a much more mature Morissette – an artist that embraces her past successes instead of being stifled by them. A woman that is unafraid and puts everything into her music and, this time around, the subject is a lot more positive.

‘Havoc and Bright Lights’ opens with ‘Guardian’, an anthem of parenthood and, despite the subject ringing all the bells, isn’t as cliche or cringe-inducing as expected. It’s also, surprisingly, one of the few moments to explicitly acknowledge her move into motherhood, though there are hints in album highlight ‘Receive’ – a track that celebrates having a break now and again from the hectic nature of day to day life. The deluxe edition also features the ambient, string-heavy ‘Magical Child’ that consults the inner infant in difficult times. Yes, it all sounds a bit far fetched but that’s the reason we love Alanis, right?

Other standout selections include ‘Celebrity’, the only track that continues the mystical electro element that shaped much of her last record, ‘Flavors Of Entanglement’, the empowering future single ‘Woman Down’ and the dreamy love song ”Til You’. If you do fancy a bit of angst, ‘Numb’ has a fair bit of it to offer and ‘Lens’, whilst not as angry, is pure Alanis that harks back to the nineties, without sounding dated. The only songs here worth skipping are the dull ‘Will You Be My Girlfriend?’ and ‘Win and Win’, a track that has a magical choral in it’s middle eight but doesn’t really go anywhere with it.

‘Havoc and Bright Lights’ is a credit to Alanis’ discography. It takes subjects that are difficult to master and forges them with strong hooks to form a snapshot of Morissette’s life as it is today. Whilst some tracks may take a while to settle in, most of them are worth the attention and will hopefully prove that a happy Alanis can be just as fruitful, engaging and powerful as an angsty one.

Words: Simon McMurdo


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