Picks and Pans Review: Left of the Middle

updated 04/13/1998 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 04/13/1998 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Natalie Imbruglia

The last foreign-born ex-TV actress to crash upon our shores with songs of female angst was named Alanis Morissette. Now comes Imbruglia, a former teenage star of the hit Australian soap Neighbours, who launched her pop career on MTV with a spicy video of her debut ditty, "Torn." Already a multimillion-selling single in Europe, the song finds the waifish beauty of Italian descent trilling lines such as "I'm cold and I am ashamed/ lying naked on the floor." Like Morissette, the 23-year-old Imbruglia sounds vexed by men and her own tendency to fall into unhappy, dependent relationships. In declaring her independence, she looks back angrily, dealing lyric bruisings to ex-lovers in such songs as "Big Mistake" and "Leave Me Alone." This is an impressive debut, to be sure. But Imbruglia never quite attains Morissette's heights of impassioned fury. Call it Alanis lite. (RCA)

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