It’s been four years since Alanis Morissette’s last album and judging by the sound of the new one, it was a bountiful hiatus. Marriage and motherhood are strong muses and the Canadian-born singer-songwriter sounds refreshed, curious, and open on “Havoc and Bright Lights.” And as ever, Morissette remains in list mode. On the ultra-catchy first single, “Guardian,” a burbly slice of shiny radio pop, she takes on the titles of guardian, angel, warrior, watchwoman, and keeper of life. The narrator of the grungy and hypnotic guitar rocker “Numb” feels smothered, encumbered, defeated, disappointed, and overextended, among other things. (This sense of “over-caring” resurfaces in the self-soothing “Receive” in which Morissette sings of the need to learn to accept help.) There is also a recitation of the various women tolerating indignities and abuses in the electronica-tinged anthem “Woman Down” and the many blessings to be thankful for in the bright piano ballad “Empathy.” There are a couple of clunkers, including the finger-wagger “Celebrity,” directed at those who seek fame as its own reward, and the droning “Win Win.” But for the most part Morissette and producers Guy Sigsworth and Joe Chiccarelli keep the proceedings crisp, tuneful, warm, and sincere. While that last element occasionally leads Morissette to flirt with flakiness, it’s refreshing that the artist who burst onto the scene in the mid-’90s is plumbing the depths to figure out what she oughta know. (Out Tuesday)
Alanis Morissette performs at the House of Blues on Oct. 17.