Abnormally Attracted to Sin

Don’t go in if you are abnormally attracted to sin“, sings Tori Amos on the title track of her new record. And what a track ! It will fiercefully sting you, then slowly crawl under your skin with its bassline killer dance-riff mixed with sultrous electronics and weird repetitive patterns.

Let me say something right off the batt: she has again filled the album with enough doubtful songs to dilute the whole thing into an incoherent work. At this point, after 4 albums plagued with the same criticism, we have reached a point where we are certain this doesn’t happen by mistake. Tori is obviously doing this deliberatly. She must have her reasons, and we should respect that. Now that it is said, I want to focus on the good stuff (roughly two thirds of the album).

At my first listen, I told a friend that this sounded to me like a Tokyo synth-harem. It’s suave, haunting, dark as hell and often angry; but this is not teenage anger I’m talking about. It’s a grown up person expressing appropriate rage. I would not want to hear a 40-something woman bitch about life like she’s a rebellious teenager.

From the first second of the trip-hoppy opener Give, we understand where this is going : Mrs Amos is dipping her toes into dangerous waters here. It seems like she’s freed of all expectation of what she must-and-must’nt be. This results in a bunch songs that sound fresh when compared to her previous repertoire, while carrying her unmistakable signature.

There is also a strong prog feel throughout the record : On Strong Black Vine, we feel like we’re listening to a 70s prog-rock extravaganza version of professional widow, while Police Me is catchy glam-rock with a strange madonna twist. Tori’s always be on the prog side with her songwriting, but this time more than ever, it is felt sonicly too, through loud guitar riffs, over-the-top drum lines and vintage (and awkward) keyboard use…

On the other hand, a lot of tunes have a jazzy feel. I’m thinking of the strangely beautiful That Guy, and the alien Lady in Blue, in which she moves from a 4-minute 1920’s jazz endaveour (that could easily be on the soundtrack to the next Lynch movie) to an instrumental rock ending.

Apart from the amazing standout tracks, most tracks end up being slightly forgettable (while still enjoyable), which is a shame. Lyrics seem to have taken a quality step down and song structures are more and more typical. The songs do, however, genuinely seem to have a common thread (at least the ones I don’t skip). I think my main pickle with the “new” tori, is that she has grown too much as a human being for me to still connect. The angst is gone (good for her), she seems content ; but I’m not there yet, and so I find it harder to grasp her music. I still listen, though, because I can’t do otherwize 🙂

Overall, the album left me satisfied. It’s no Choirgirl Hotel, but it’s definetly worth the ride, despite its missteps (and there are many). That said, I sometimes also feel like this about her and this album.


Strong Black Vine