With all the attention Alanis Morissette's career has garnered, it's startling to think that on the release of her third studio CD she has yet to see her 28th birthday. Under Rug Swept
finds Morissette in the producer's role, a position she seems more comfortable with at this stage than songwriter. The opener, "21 Things I Want in a Lover," finds Morissette ticking off her likes and dislikes before an attention-grabbing explosion of crunching guitar chords and a scratchy hip-hop beat. Swept
's emotional flow is navigated by Morissette's vocal queues: her lower register accompanies confrontation and self-proclamation ("Narcissus"), the higher intimates vulnerability and reflection ("Utopia"). Every tone is enlivened by well-blended electronic and acoustic elements. The snag is that, as with her previous two albums, Under Rug Swept
is marred by unabridged stream-of-consciousness lyrics. Her awkward syntax and distorted phrasing disorients music that's melodious and compelling. She remains acutely self-obsessed, delivering rants aimed at men who are fatally flawed and, naturally, irresistibly devastating. For now, her greatest strength as a musician lies in her ear for a powerful melody. Lyrically, she'd be better off keeping her contorted prose In Closet Locked. --Beth Massa
Her first studio album in four years, the much-anticipated Under Rug Swept reveals a phenomenal success story of a woman who has become a truly major force in rock. Guests includes Flea & Meshell Ndegeocello. Maverick Records. Features enhanced material including videos. 2002.