Alanis Morissette is, without doubt, a legitimate phenomenon. Not only did she record one of the most successful and talked about albums of the 90's, she managed to defy her critics, disappear for a year to work with Mother Theresa, and then release an even better second album. The maturity she obviously gained in her absence is evident in every song on Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie. Gone are the amateur-psychologist introspective lyrics and the catchy yet unemotional music - don't get me wrong, I loved 'Jagged Little Pill', but compared to this, it's chart fodder - and in their places are lyrics with real depth of understanding and music with real emotion and sensitivity. There is a darkness about this album, a forthright intelligence, subtle wit and heaps of individuality - which means that, unfortunately, it does not have widespread commercial appeal.
Musically, it's heavier and more diverse than the previous album. Some of the tracks sound like moody heavy rock (Baba, Joining You, I Was Hoping), others like cherubic folk tunes, but then it never sounds like anything else you've ever heard - her voice is utterly unique. A lot of the tracks require a great deal of digestion, and some I've listened to for a good couple of years and still haven't worked out. Songs like One, Would Not Come and I Was Hoping are incredibly self-critical, but only if you're really insecure can you relate to the lyrics. Joining You is a very personal number (it could have been written about my teens) that really situates you inside her life, and That I Would Be Good is incredible, by far the most insightful and moving she has ever been - provided you can understand how it feels to pin your happiness and self-esteem upon success. Can't Not makes you think, The Couch is a remarkably deep psychology-fest, and there are still songs about love and the pressures of relationships in these modern times.
Overall, Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie is great, but like I said, I don't think it has widespread appeal because it is not all happy and empowering, her sexual aggression (a major part of the first album) is very underplayed, and the songs can make you feel uncomfortable about your own life. The eastern influences are very noticeable and enhance her rare sound. The only downside is Unsent, which I cannot relate to at all. Personally, I think this album belongs in every collection, but even my girlfriend - who loved the first album - hates this one. I won't say you have to go out and buy it, but I definitely think more people, especially those who hated the first album and anyone into alternative music, should give it an open listen. Then you might just change your opinion about her.