"Late 90s Spirit Pop" is a five-part review series about the unusual and interesting boom in "spiritual" pop albums during 1998 and 1999. For this series, I will explore five records indicative of this movement.
It has become pop music legend that after the success of Jagged Little Pill, Alanis Morissette traveled to India for rest and self-discovery. The record that resulted from her return is the gorgeous, restless Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie (1998). While Morissette plays with familiar structures on her sophomore international effort--like the list song on "Thank You" and "Unsent," as well as pop structures on "So Pure"--the album is more diverse than its predecessor. The singer/songwriter's fascination with Buddhism, Hip-Hop, and middle-eastern musical colors defines the album, creating a diverse, textured, and complicated record. "That I Would Be Good" is an effecting ballad about spiritual self-doubt, "Baba" uses rock-swagger to chide a religious leader, "I Was Hoping" rambles through questions of morality, and "Joining You," one of the best songs here, considers the "self" and how we define ourselves. This all sounds like heavy material, and in some cases it is, but what makes this record an engaging experience is Morissette's commitment to every lyric. These are questions she seems to be working through as she sings them to us, and many of her questions are our's as well. Supposed is her masterpiece.