Disc Reviews

Alanis Morissette's Flavors of Entanglement, The Best of Radiohead and Paul Weller's 22 Dreams.

ALANIS MORISSETTE Flavors of Entanglement (Hatav Hashmini) For her first studio album in four years, Alanis Morissette returns to the woman scorned motif of her 1995 breakout Jagged Little Pill. Following the almost light-hearted optimism of 2004's So-Called Chaos, Morissette and the split from her long-time fiancé, most of Flavors of Entanglement seem like responses to that heartbreak. With the first half of the album boasting an angry, almost industrial sound, Morissette sounds like she's full of venom, with her voice reaching the upper levels of her register to an almost shrill effect. Her often undecipherable lyrics are still full of half thoughts, non sequiturs and melodramatic poetic flourishes, which is part of her charm in the first place. But here, they're often buried beneath the heavy mix provided by collaborator and producer Guy Sigsworth, who's worked with people like Bjork and Madonna. The dense pounding of the opening "Citizen of the Planet" and the nods to electro-dance beats and fuzzy squeals on "Straitjacket" end up dominating the mix and leaves Morissette a support act on her own album. Thankfully, there's enough more subtle material in the second half that enables her melodic talents and emotional vulnerability to seep through - like the piano ballad "Not As We" and the delicate "Torch." This might be Morissette's most challenging album, but fans who have stuck with her through her many turns will find Flavors of Entanglement another satisfying chapter in her quest for happiness. RADIOHEAD The Best of (Helicon) Even musical visionaries like Radiohead sometimes have to succumb to conventional things, like greatest hits albums. But appropriately enough, the band had nothing to do with its release, weren't involved in the song selection, and reportedly expressed their disapproval that their former record company EMI chose to issue the compilation, which is available in single and double CD format. The single CD version comprises the majority of the band's singles, focusing heavily on 1995's The Bends, with six tracks and their 1997 landmark OK Computer with four tracks. The rest of the CD consists of a smattering of songs from their debut Pablo Honey ("Creep," of course) and their more experimental albums Kid A, Amnesiac and Hail to the Thief. The song selection is spot on for the most part, but more songs from Pablo Honey would have been appreciated. What's problematic here is that the music isn't sequenced chronologically, which in Radiohead's case is a vital element, as their sound evolved drastically from one album to another. The casual listener, to whom this collection is geared, might end up scratching his head. But it's still a good place to start if you're wondering what all the fuss about Radiohead is. PAUL WELLER 22 Dreams (Helicon) Paul Weller's sprawling 22 Dreams seems like the culmination of a startlingly diverse career. The former mod punk leader of The Jam touches on all facets of his long-lived solo career, from the guitar pop of "All I Wanna Do (Is Be With You)" to the soul rave up "Have You Made Up Your Mind?" to the cocktail jazz of "Song for Alice." Mostly there's a relaxed feel, indeed a dreamy quality that befits its title, as acoustic British folk tunes float in and out, taking turns with Traffic-like jams, and occasionally a psychedelic rocker like "Echoes Round the Sun" featuring guest Noel Gallagher. A throwback to the early 1970s, when rockers weren't locked into a style and albums took on a rambling vibe, 22 Dreams contains all the highs and lows of life itself.