Alanis Morissette: Flavours of Entanglement

The first lady of sensibility – who never seemed to get carried away by the trappings of stardom nor convention, continues to reign as the queen of soul with her unique, passionate and energetic vocals – has released her fourth album Flavors Of Entanglement. As always, her music manages to creep into your sensibilities.

With many of the songs set to a sour and brooding note, one does miss the happy, fun and powerful voice from “Jagged Little Pill”.

The album starts off with a prominently tabla-backed “Citizen of the Planet”. Alanis the poet is at her very best and this one is about a migrant’s life; the disconnect and the yearning to belong. “Underneath” follows with its catchy chorus and talks about looking inwards to make a difference to the world. “Straitjacket” is where the content starts going sour, like a bitter rant; yet one continues to listen for the music and her passionate vocals. With words like ‘cruelty’, ‘disrespect’, ‘mental’, ‘skewed’, ‘crazy’, she sure must have ran out of adjectives to describe her bad patch in relationships (she lost her man Ryan Reynolds to the famous Scarlet Johannson). However, the song, set to an electronica synth dance beat, one suddenly feels like they’re in the middle of a Depeche Mode album. “Versions of Violence” is another scathing, seemingly femininist, take on violence. With just a piano to accompany her on “Not As We”, she sings wistfully of the times when one has to start anew, with more experience but not understanding. “Moratorium” is another bitter-sweet track where Alanis declares ‘a moratorium from all things relationship’, tired of this rat-race of flimsy romances and meaningless words, followed by the personal song “Torch”. The album in all manages takes the listener on Alanis’ personal emotional wave, and a pleasant ride it is.

Flavors of Entanglement, true to its name, paints several pictures of her entangled self. Be it relationship issues or climate change; Alanis continues to be that spark of intelligence in a world that seems to be dumbing down by the minute.

She’s not the happy girl from “Jagged Little Pill”, but fans – who love her for the bold, candid individual she is - cannot afford to miss this album.

Sigur Ros: Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust

From the damp, cold climbs of Iceland comes another artist that defies most genres. Sigur Ros have come out with its fifth album, Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust literally translated as ‘With a Buzz in Our Ears We Play Endlessly’.

The band formed in 1994 had last released their hugely popular and easily available album “Takk” in 2005. Perhaps it is the geographical isolation or this poorly inhabited country that inspires artistes to produce music that is so different from what we are used to hearing. So different that it can be rarely catalogued as anything but Icelandic. Like Bjork before them, these Icelanders create a sonic conflagration that can be likened to no one but them.

They sing in a language spoken by about 3,20,000 people (Yes, that is the population of the entire country). Add to that the fact that the lyrics are written in a language created by the band: called Vonlenska (also called Hopelandic) and any citizen of the world could for once be at a loss. It seems they’ve nailed that “music knows no barriers” cliché.

This art rock bandhas become a darling of sorts with celebrities from Metallica’s Lars Ulrich to Brad Pitt, all queuing up to profess their love for Sigur Ros (which literally means victory rose). Sigur Ros has managed to cut another pristine album and almost magnanimously added their first song in English at the album’s end. As usual, the music is beautiful and the glacial images they trigger in your imagination set your mind into a twirl. The music is light, cheerful and effervescent, yet remains ethereal despite their attempts at frivolity. The music leaps from one shade to another.

The album opens with “Gobbledigook” followed by “Innimer” with a breezy folk tune which sets the up-tempo intro for the album. The former was inspired, they say, by the cacophony of the Eurovision song contest. The next tract follows with the simplistic slow clarity that they bring about and evokes crystal clear images of clean, barren Icelandic landscapes. To seemingly compensate for the several short songs, they launch into the two epics in the album in quick succession. Here is where we see their trademark style coming in with minimalist beginnings and ending in a lavish ceremony of instruments culminating in grand style. As always vocalist Jonsi Birgisson’s trademark delicate falsetto cuts through the air where one feels that to touch it would be to shatter it to a million sparkling pieces.

The music thereafter is a departure from their usual songs. Marked by the acoustic guitar, simple piano leads and plain vocals, it marks a more grounded approach by them. The album goes into a contemplative and expansive mood without being sad. The resulting songs are somehow deeply visceral of the Scandinavian landscape and far removed from the heat, dust and chaos of the tropics that we inhabit. It leads us to the peaceful “All Allright”, the last on the album and their first venture into English. With a grand piano for company, Sigur Ros shows us that they would sound the same whichever language they sing in.