Alanis Morissette : Uninvited

Posted on July 24, 2014

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Over-analysing is a dangerous thing, albeit one of the most glorious when it comes to music. With regards to individual songs, it is especially dangerous. All manner of cliches are thrown around, in an attempt to encourage individuals to think that what they are hearing is somehow more important than they initially realised, because our impressionable souls will always choose importance over enjoyment. Words like mood will be thrown out at will, how a song creates a certain mood and a certain atmosphere.

Alanis Morissette generally excelled at this whole mood thing. ‘Jagged Little Pill’ is essentially an album of immense pop, but you still find songs like Forgiven and Not the Doctor  that create something different, songs that encourage different mental images than a festival singalong. Her second album, Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie, took this to a creative highs, a 17-song behemoth that pushes the envelope with regards to insight into an individual’s mind. That album is full of mood songs, such as I Was Hoping, Joining You or Can’t Not, songs that are more than just audio streaming through earlobes. It is a wonderful album, difficult yes, but wonderful nonetheless.

Uninvited shits on all of this. In terms of songs creating their own atmosphere, their own mood, fuck, their own magnetic field, Uninvited is up there with anything else that comes to mind after a list-making session. Sparse piano more often than not is a winner, we all surely know this by now. Morissette is a truly awe-inspiring vocalist, this isn’t up for debate, but put her vocals over the aforementioned sparse piano and anything is possible. Percussion-wise, everything is fairly low key for the first minute and three quarters, which makes that initial snare oh so much more jarring. And yes, a more expectant drum part enhances the, enter italics, mood. 

In some ways, Uninvited feels like a song that has absolutely nothing to do with the musical notes that are being played in whatever order they happen to be played in. It sounds like a song that has been constructed purely to enhance a moment in an individuals life, to make standing on the edge of a bridge that little more dramatic. Nirvana taught everyone the power of the quiet vocal and guitar break two-thirds through, but they never came close to what Morissette achieves three minutes into this. Again, the combination of sparse piano and Alanis vocal comes back to flatten everything with fragility. It is fucking immense.

And then the last minute happens, a controlled free-for-all with escalating drums and strings and everything going awfully wrong in the most poetic of manners. All the while (you wait, for your heart) the sparse piano anchors the song, allowing drums and guitar and HOLY SHIT THE DRUMS to play hell all around. It is the sort of song that you can only ever play last in your set, because what can follow it? There isn’t an answer to that question, it it beyond rhetorical.

The claim of a song creating a mood is one that gets thrown around so very frequently, so very liberally, that it has become almost moot. However, Alanis Morissette managed to perfectly encapsulate everything anyone ever means when they say that with Uninvited. It is quite blatantly a masterpiece.

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Posted in: Music