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Bouncing Off Clouds
You Can Bring Your Dog
Mr. Bad Man
Devils And Gods
Body And Soul
Beauty Of Speed
Dark Side Of The Sun
Listening to a Tori Amos album is like consuming an enormous Chelsea bun. That it seemed a really good idea at the outset, but then as you get towards the centre (depending on how you eat your buns) that it all gets a bit overwhelming, and you doubt if you can eat a whole one. Oh it's certainly tasty but a little goes a long way. She also has a tendency to make really long albums too which although admirable in the value-for-money stakes, calls for extra perseverance in making it to the end without resorting to the 'next' button.
The album kicks of with a low-key lament on the state of American politics, the "madness of king George" (small "k") and having an "allergy to your policies". After that it's the surprisingly bouncy, rootsy / country tinged "Big Wheel". Slightly un-Tori, but that's half of the plan or one fifth more accurately as this album is split into five different personas, of which Tori is only one. Ultimately it hardly matters, as the personas are not so different that you don't recognise the source. Indeed her voice is still one of the most charismatic, and one that no five-way split personality can disguise.
If you're used to a moody, brooding Tori, slumped over the piano (arguably her best persona) then you may be disappointed. This is far more upbeat than her recent albums, and some tracks work better than others. The fairly regular pop of "Bouncing Off Clouds" manages to be neither rocky, raunchy, or anything else. It's indifferent Shania Twain notched up a couple of octaves. "Teenage Hustling" has more welcome attitude, whilst the quieter delicacy of "Digital Ghost", and piano / strings combo of "Girl Disappearing" is more what long-time Tori fans will welcome.
She tosses in the surprises well. "Mr Bad Man" has plink-plonk Beatles overtones, whilst "Body And Soul" verges on glam-rock. It is those diverse tangents in music and song that remain her enduring appeal. The mish-mash that frequently prevails in her song construction is simply what she does. The rocker air-guitar that joins in at times here is less necessary.
"Father's Son" is more her traditional side, and the darker, lower tone keys of "Code Red" show that she can still truly impress. Lyrically she's sharp as ever (if you can decode the Tori on Tori harmonies), with the protest of the world today in "Dark Side Of The Sun" particularly strong.
The brief inserts that appear speak volumes too. 42 seconds of "Fat Slut" is aggressively potent, and the equally brief "Devils and Gods" is so wringing with beauty that it is gagging to be made into a longer piece. Then there's the gorgeous and all-too-brief Russian-ish flavours of "Velvet Revolution", and rather fun oompah feel to "Programmable Soda" that doesn't even stretch to a minute and a half. Shame.
She's certainly not gotten old here either; the pace and feel throughout has a heady youthful vibrancy. But it all depends on how you like your Amos. If 'The Beekeeper' didn't deliver the honey, but earlier work did, then the doll posse might be your fix. Especially if an ethos of 80's pop / rock with a current undertone of the current works. Yes you can admire this CD a lot, but you may need to pick and choose which tracks you want on your iPod.
There's no point wishing for an album that she herself didn't want to make, but massaging not spanking the ivories is what she does best. This is still a good album she's probably not got it in her to make a rubbish one and that she can still surprise and amaze after 15 years of making albums, is very impressive. You just have to select the more enduring currents out of the Chelsea bun.