Tori Amos
Abnormally Attracted To Sin


2.0
poor

Review

by Nick Butler EMERITUS
May 29th, 2009 | 24 replies


Release Date: 2009 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Tori on autopilot.

Back in 2007, when I was about to review Tori's American Doll Posse, my best friend pointed me in the direction of a review written by one of his best friends. This review - which appeared on the now-defunct Stylus - asserts that 'the only way we’re going to get a good album from her in this day and age is if someone has the decency to abduct and kill her daughter'. It's since become infamous in its brutal cruelty (do a Google search for 'tori amos beekeeper review' and it's second only to Metacritic), and the very mention of it draws great vengeance and furious anger from even the most non-committal Tori Amos fan.

The biggest problem facing Abnormally Attracted to Sin is that it actually makes that Stylus review sound reasonable.

A Tori Amos album release has, in all honesty, become a complete non-event for all but her biggest fans. That she retains that fanbase at all, let alone one so big, and that they remain so devoted, is an impressive achievement for a still-active artist releasing more than one album every 5 years, but year on year the ranks of that fanbase dwindle. For rock critics, each album since Scarlet's Walk has been nothing more than an excuse to print a picture with a Botox joke underneath, and to write one paragraph that involves the phrase 'Kate Bush's little sister', which as an opinion is about as stupid as saying that Lewis Hamilton and Mike Tyson must be twins (because they're both black and do sports, right?) Record stores don't even put her new albums on show anymore, burying them under 'A' in rock & pop. It's been an unfair reflection of the reality for a while now, because even without considering her still-impressive sales figures, she's kept quietly batting songs out of the park the whole time - "Sweet The Sting", "Big Wheel", "Bouncing Off Clouds", "'97 Bonnie & Clyde", "I Can't See New York", "A Sorta Fairytale", "Glory of the '80s" - and even songs like "The Power of Orange Knickers" and "Datura" have been awful in an interesting, memorable, even charming way.

To say there aren't any great songs here would be too big a compliment - there aren't even any songs like "The Power of Orange Knickers". It would take a superhuman effort to remember anything about this album after the first listen - the never-ending stream of bland, vaguely sultry ballads just wash over the listener and leave nothing behind, not even disappointment or annoyance. It's a spectacularly unaffecting listen. And that's just the surface flaw - the problems continue from there on in. Conceptually, the album is hollow, which is a first for Amos - the vague ideas of exploring the links between religion, sin, and womanhood ring hollow, especially when she had that territory nailed on both Little Earthquakes and, particularly, Boys For Pele. The concepts behind Scarlet's Walk and American Doll Posse may have drawn scorn and bemusement, but at least they existed - Abormally Attracted to Sin has no such idea to anchor it.

Sonically, the same lack of a coherent idea applies. The only constant seems to be that Tori wanted the album to sound sexy without sounding confrontational, which would tie in nicely with her choice of Karen Collins to shoot the artwork. Sadly, it misses the point entirely; a point made all the more confusing for the existence of "Sweet The Sting", her sexiest song ever, released just 4 years ago. This is music that hints at sex but remains devoid of passion; it's a bedroom mixtape for a 60-year old couple. It never really decides where it wants to be on a few other points, either - it never reaches areas where you'd really describe it as 'experimental', but it's certainly a step removed from some of the easy listening AOR stuff on "The Beekeeper", for instance. Similarly, it seems to skirt around the edges of being epic without committing to it. It's a disappointment, given that Tori is clearly at her best when she flings herself at an idea - any idea - head-first with conviction.

The thing that keeps this album afloat is, quite simply, Tori's natural talent. She's simply too smart and too gifted to ever make a truly abysmal record, and in line with that, the songs that make up this album are merely boring, never offensively bad. And yet, just because it's poor rather than awful is damning with faint praise, and quite rightly. Abnormally Attracted to Sin is, by quite some distance, her weakest album yet. So much for that 'return to form' I harped on about two years ago.



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user ratings (77)
Chart.
2.9
good
other reviews of this album
Zac (4)
Tori stands and delivers on her 10th outing with a superbly put together anthology of songs....


Comments:Add a Comment 
Iai
Emeritus
May 29th 2009


3553 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Really surprised to see the ratings for this so far to be honest.

Altmer
May 29th 2009


5652 Comments


I've only heard the first few, but it wasn't memorable.

foreverendeared
May 29th 2009


14678 Comments


awesome review. Tori Amos was great in the day :/

foreverendeared
May 29th 2009


14678 Comments


if she could become relevant again that'd be great because i still love her voice

mvdu
May 29th 2009


608 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I actually agree, and I like Tori. I think the dark mood overshadows melody and her piano playing too much.

Altmer
May 29th 2009


5652 Comments


Little Earthquakes is like the best album ever.

ConorMichaelJoseph
May 29th 2009


1870 Comments


A girlfriend got me into Tori Amos a few years back. I haven't heard her most recent stuff though, and this review doesn't make me all too eager to check it out...

Iai
Emeritus
May 29th 2009


3553 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

I think it would be pretty fair to say that every Tori record has been slightly worse than the last, with the exception of American Doll Posse.

NortherlyNanook
May 29th 2009


1285 Comments


...'we’re going to get a good album from her in this day and age is if someone has...


don't like that "is" tbh

or maybe you meant 'the only way we're...'

Shattered_Future
May 30th 2009


1541 Comments


I couldn't find anything compelling to listen to on this record.

rasputin
May 30th 2009


14555 Comments


well this is disappointing, i really like amos

Iai
Emeritus
May 30th 2009


3553 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

don't like that "is" tbh

or maybe you meant 'the only way we're...'

It's a direct quote from someone else. Which is pretty obvious by the speech marks and all the words around it.

Iai
Emeritus
May 30th 2009


3553 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

But you're right that I meant to copy 'the only way' before it.

Asiatic667
May 30th 2009


4648 Comments


abnormally attracted to cheese

deleteriousenigma
May 30th 2009


14 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

The album has beautifully composed pieces, lyrics which conjure immaculate imagery and tori's voice is quite powerful on this album, (re: Strong Black Vine). If you stop comparing everything to her old stuff you can see this album is brilliant in it's own right. This is one of the lowest reviews i have seen for the album, everything else I've read has ranked it quiet highly, perhaps you need a few more listens. I stand by my rating.

Iai
Emeritus
May 30th 2009


3553 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Never understood that line of thought. If you stop comparing things to other things, everything is a 5/5 by default.

In any case, if you really think that I think this is bad because it's not Little Earthquakes, then you should probably read my ADP review.

foreverendeared
May 30th 2009


14678 Comments


From The Choirgirl Hotel is her best imo. it's so dark and haunting. but yeah, not comparing this to her past works is practically impossible.

AFI084
May 30th 2009


32 Comments


"This is music that hints at sex but remains devoid of passion; it's a bedroom mixtape for a 60-year old couple."

Great line, great review.

Zeromus Dark
May 31st 2009


45 Comments


Damn, she is one of my favorite casual artist. It sucks this is that bad. What am i going to listen too when i take a break from metal now... >

Altmer
June 1st 2009


5652 Comments


Little Earthquakes.



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