Such Pretty Forks in the Road
2020 – Pop / Rock
Epiphany / Thirty Tigers
On her first album in almost a decade, Canadian singer-songwriter Alanis Morissette appears with well-written and produced songs that seem lost in time.
2020 is the year in which longtime veteran singers are abandoning long hiatuses and releasing new material for the first time in years. From Fiona Apple, who had been saving amazing songs in a drawer since her 2012’s The Idler Wheel, to Rufus Wainwright, who, although released other works, was far from original compositions for almost a decade, these artists are coming back with very exciting works. Along with these, Alanis Morissette also breaks an 8-year vacation and returns with Such Pretty Forks in the Road, her ninth studio album and successor to the lukewarm Havoc and Bright Lights. However, as much as the album was extremely anticipated and spent almost 3 years in production with Morissette alongside Alex Hope and Catherine Marks in the studio, the Canadian singer’s new project seems to be something that should have been released many years ago.
Album covers rarely have a big influence on the opinion that a certain person may have on the tracks of a particular project. However, in Such Pretty Forks in the Road things go the other way. The cover of the project is really strange and tacky, showing an open-mouthed woman covered in glitter on a black background. The problem is that this strange and tacky aesthetic is passed to the songs on the album. Therefore, Such Pretty is a set of well written and produced songs that sound extremely dated and tawdry, looking like something from the early 2000s. The lyrics here are well tied and have well written combinations and the orchestral instruments are well produced and mixed, however, the set of everything is really tacky, saturated, antiquated and forgettable. In a nutshell, Such Pretty Forks in the Road is a good comeback, however, a comeback that should have been made over 20 years ago.
In fact, the album starts off in a really pleasant way with “Smiling” which, although it has a calm, weak and disappointing chorus, ends up being a very good opening song, mixing analog instruments with the lyrics, in which Alanis sings about how she does keeps moving forward even though she’s been facing a kind of war. The track really has a feeling of being too simple at times and that something is missing, however, that was not something that really bothers as it ended up matching the thematic of the lyrics. In addition, this is also part of the set of good tracks on the album, which is unfortunately short. While in “Ablaze,” a very beautiful and very well-written letter from her to her children, she appears cleaner and raw alongside just a guitar that plays some very beautifully chords, “Reasons I Drink” becomes the most captivating song on the album, with a really catchy hook. As much as the lyrics present some lines that seem to have come from the caption of posts on Instagram, the instrumental is very well dosed and manages to create this great progression, in addition to transmitting a very incredible energy in the chorus with the help of Alanis’ vocals. Unfortunately, these are the only moments when the songs stand out or don’t sound like something from extremely dated.
From there, the album starts to come together with songs that, even with good production and good lyrics, sound old and rarely stand out. “Losing the Plot” sounds like a sad DIY song from 2008 that, even with an intimate lyrics about a vulnerable period of the singer, seems saturated and so cliché that it reaches a point that you really don’t care about the lyrics and can only think about how many times you’ve heard this easy mix of sentimental strings and pianos. In the same way, “Missing the Miracle,” which shows Alanis seeing the insecure side of a relationship, and “Her,” a mixture of a feminist and sadness that paints Morissette praying to a Goddess for help, come up showing a sound that anyone would easily recognize from some successful movie from the early 2000s. In fact, they are not bad tracks, but you will rarely want to hear them again because of the simple fact that you have heard that same sound countless times before.
However, there are still some tracks that manage to have really bad lyrics that deliver the entire structure of the song to the instruments that most of the time is not enough to hold these songs. In “Sandbox Love,” for example, the track really starts well, however, when we get to chorus, where Alanis repeats “fuck” several times just to create something that rhymes, everything starts to get tiring. “Nemesis,” in turn, carries an instrumental that Avicii would have done in 2013 or 2014 and a lyric that is too long for you to be able to capture everything the singer wanted to say. Of course, both tracks sound, at times, merely good, however, it is still undeniable that both are tiring and too long, in addition to looking like really old. Some people may even argue that Alanis is trying to pay homage, referral or rescue, however, you can’t feel any of this here.
Finally, after tracks like “Diagnosis” and “Reckoning” that show Alanis in vulnerable moments, “Pedestal” ends the album in a decent way. In addition to this track choosing with something a little more original that can work better with the voice of Alanis, this track can tie almost everything that happened on the album and have one of the best lyrics which have several striking lines. While violin mixes with piano, synthesizers and synthetic palm beats, she sings, “I’m sure you’ve enjoyed the ride, who wouldn’t?” and then complete, “I’m sure you enjoyed my name, who wouldn’t take advantage?” Unfortunately, it is only on the last track that the lyrics again have memorable lines and that the instrumental works very well with the lyrics and the singer and sounds like something contemporary. For those who love cliché songs from the 2000s, Such Pretty Forks in the Road will sound brilliant, but for those who don’t, they will wait a few more years for something new from Morissette.