Alanis Morissette's jagged little thrill has subsided. It's been seven years since her debut stormed pop airwaves and she was crowned queen of angst-in-her-pants self-martyrdom. The underperforming Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie somewhat dimmed the burnished jewels of her tiara, but not enough to knock her out of the palace. With Under Rug Swept, she has her sights set on the throne again, but her methods of reclamation are labored.
Morissette's neither subtle ("Dear momma's boy/I know you've had your butt licked by your mother," she begins one song) nor graceful (lines are awkwardly phrased and clumsily executed) here. She stretches the word "Utopia" into something close to a sentence and occasionally wallows in ambiguity. Under Rug Swept's first single, "Hands Clean," appears to suggest a sexual assault, but Morissette's cavalier attitude ("I have honored your request for silence/And you've washed your hands clean of this") is hardly the stuff of girl power.
Maybe she thinks she can make up for it by commandeering and claiming complete control over Under Rug Swept. Morissette produced the album herself, without the meddling hack hands of Glen Ballard. But the results are still clunky, chunky, and overwrought -- hardly the ways of former royalty. She oughta know.