It had been two years since Morissette released her fifth studio album, Under Rug Swept. In that time she had met her then fiancé Ryan Reynolds, inspiring many of the songs she wrote for So-Called Chaos. The album found her in a more contented and relaxed state than her previous output, and her songs were brighter and happier than her more volatile works like "You Oughta Know" and "Uninvited". One reporter asked if the song "This Grudge" was based on the same person as "You Oughta Know", and Morissette replied, "Different person, same era."
The first single, "Everything", was released to US radio in the spring of 2004, and was met with mixed reaction. US Adult Top 40 radio stations gave the song good airplay, but mainstream and top 40 stations were colder in their reception, and consequently it became Morissette's lowest peaking single on the Billboard Hot 100. "Everything" was included on the Totally Hits 2004, Vol. 2 compilation, and in 2006 it was featured in the film Clerks II.
Some reviews of So-Called Chaos were positive, with many critics calling it her most accessible and mainstream record since her debut Jagged Little Pill (1995). Still, others thought she had "sold out" for the sake of sales and radio play; Rolling Stone magazine, for example, said the album "attempts to reverse the sliding record sales following [Jagged Little Pill]."
The album debuted at number two on the Canadian albums chart with first week sales of 11,200, and at number five on the US Billboard 200, selling 115,000 copies in its first week in the US and 287,000 that same week worldwide. It spent a week in the US top ten before falling down the chart. As of March 2012, the album has sold 474,000 copies in the US. The second single outside the US was "Out Is Through", which had a poor showing in the UK. The second US single was "Eight Easy Steps", which, despite being accompanied by an elaborate music video, failed to chart on the Hot 100 or cause a significant increase in sales of the album, which had already fallen off the Billboard 200. "Excuses" was released as a radio single in Brazil, where it peaked outside the top 40.