I haven’t heard an Alanis Morissette album the whole way through for a very long time, and it has been a few years since her last production. Flavors of Entanglement, her seventh studio album, sees her approaching a near-reinvention of herself. Her powerful, poetic lyrics – that are in themselves an entanglement of quirky mannerisms – remain, but the music and delivery has changed. The album floats between grungy rockish outlets like the starter “Citizen Of The Planet” and “Versions Of Violence” to the more experimental sounds of tracks like “Straitjacket”. In my opinion, she is at her best on solitary piano-driven tracks such as “Not As We” and the beautifully-heartfelt and personal “Torch”, where she sings: “These are not times for the weak of heart/These are the days of raw despondence/and I never dreamed I would have to lay down my torch for you like this.”
The more pop-based, radio-friendly tracks are still around and include the lead single “Underneath”, “In Praise of the Vulnerable Man” and “Giggling Again For No Reason”, the latter song which is loaded with a more techno-dance feel than the usual expectations. Flavors of Entanglement pulls away from the safety of the more raw instrumentals you might hear on a benchmark album like Jagged Little Pill, and moves into the more new-agey beats, mixed with orchestral backings and synth-pop, that some how, some way, still come off as tasteful.
All together, it is quite a strangely optimistic album and lacks the monochromatic roller coaster ride you might expect from an Alanis album, that usually reflects her current year-long state-of-mind. The final song on the album, “Incomplete”, Alanis sings amidst the foreground of acoustic guitars and synthesized beats: “I have been running so sweaty my whole life/Urgent for a finish line/And I have been missing the rapture this whole time/Of being forever incomplete”, which is perhaps a self-realization that we are never meant to be totally complete.