Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Alanis Morissette: Under Rug Swept [Maverick, 2002]
Once dissed as the voice of pseudofeminist exploitation, Morissette was in fact a thinking original in a showbiz context she had the stuff to make something of. The pop-rock here lacks the faux-punk edge Glen Ballard got on the debut and the expansive grandeur he manufactured for the follow-up. But Morissette instantly demonstrates her gift for the catchy, crunching out a guitar riff and then revealing 21 "not necessarily needs but things that I prefer" in a lover. Stretching out il-lu-si-on and for-med to suit scansion or mood, opposing capital punishment and coming out for sex "more than three times a week," topping memorable verse with indelible chorus, she's a self-actualized nut who goes for what she wants, exactly as pretentious as the college girls she represents for. Whatever the biographical details, I hear love songs to a narcissist, an old flame, an "employee" (has anyone used that word in a song before?), plus a self-doubt anthem for perspective and gorgeous regrets for pathos. Even when the forced pronunciations turn gauche, she remains a good egg who's not afraid to put herself on the line. A-