Flavors of Entanglement
- Buy the CD
Reviewed by Greg M. Schwartz
Some may say Alanis is too pop to be a true “rock goddess,” and the pairing with matchbox twenty could be suggested as evidence for that assertion. But anyone who’s seen her live show knows that she and her band rock out way harder onstage than they do in the studio. Alanis is also an artist who puts more depth and emotion into her craft than most pop divas can dream of. You don’t get chosen by Kevin Smith to play God (in the Gen-X film classic “Dogma”) without possessing some serious mojo. Alanis has got that mojo working on Flavors, which appropriately features a smorgasbord of musical tastes.
Flavors does not feature a lot of big guitar sounds. But British electronica producer Guy Sigsworth (who also co-wrote the album) has helped Alanis craft some of the hardest rocking tracks of her career. He does it in a relatively unique way, by using some way cool electro and analog synth sounds to bring the intensity on tracks like the majestic “Citizen of the Planet,” the hard-hitting “Straitjacket,” and the feel-good groove of “Giggling Again for No Reason.” These three tracks explode out of the stereo with a compelling new flavor that is difficult to compare to anything else out there at the moment, and they’re poised to serve as high-energy crowd pleasers on the upcoming tour.
“Straitjacket” is a straight-out jam, propelled by some more stylish synth work that is destined to get arena crowds rocking and dance floors moving. The emotional intensity of the vocals recalls the cathartic flavor of Alanis’ breakthrough hit “You Oughta Know,” with lyrics that take either a friend or lover to task for driving her crazy with erratic behavior.
“Giggling Again for No Reason” delivers one of the feel-good tracks of the year. Hard-edged guitars and bouncy synths work together here as two great flavors that show they can go great together. This is the kind of song that demands to be cranked up when you’re driving in your car (but if you’re on the highway, beware of subconscious speeding.)
Lead single “Underneath” features Alanis in classic melodic pop mode, reminiscent of some of her early hits, yet with the deepened perspective of a soul-searching seeker who’s had over a decade to explore whatever path she might find herself drawn to. “In Praise of the Vulnerable Man” is a similarly styled romantic ode to men who aren’t jerks. Lucky guys across the country are likely to receive this song on mix tapes from appreciative girlfriends throughout the year. Alanis’ voice flat out shines on both tracks. “Incomplete” also falls into the melodic pop category, but with a self-effacing vibe that Alanis isn’t shy about wearing on her sleeve.
“Versions of Violence,” “Moratorium,” and “Tapes” shift into moodier flavors. They still rock to some degree, but in a more down-tempo, low-key way. “Versions” features a hypnotic verse that is downright entrancing. “Not as We” and “Torch” move into ballad territory with some deep emoting by the vulnerable Alanis.
“She has this ginormous, super-massive, planet-eating emotional range,” says Sigsworth in the album’s press kit. Comparing her skills to Galactus (the planet-eating cosmic villain from Fantastic Four and Silver Surfer comics) seems a bit off base, but while Sigsworth may not be up on his Marvel comics, he’s succeeded smashingly in forming a dynamic duo with Alanis to make Flavors some of her best work.