Tori Amos
American Doll Posse



by hamid95 USER (10 Reviews)
August 6th, 2017 | 2 replies

Release Date: 2007 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Yas, kitsch Tori

It’s yet another concept album for Tori Amos, and yes, at a whopping 22 tracks it’s her longest one. Take a look at that cover art: It’s a dreadful mish mash of her posing in various wigs and attires (one version holding a rooster) on top of a Persian rug, with a concrete wall as backdrop. It might give the impression of a recipe for disaster, a confused mess and career suicide. It doesn’t help that the conceptual structuring of the album is based on Greek, female archetypes as dolls singing the songs, with names like Pip and Santa and subtexts like (HisTORIcal) and (CliTORIdes).

Well, it’s somewhat irrelevant once you hit the bridge in the gleefully infectious “Big Wheel”:

“I, I, I am a
Don’t you forget…”

The wonderful surprise being that American Doll Posse is Amos’ most fun album isn’t to say that it’s still not a sprawling mess, but what salvages the project is that it’s never a boring listen. Whilst stylistically all over the place, it does seem Tori’s having a lot of fun making wildly idiosyncratic decisions, such as sequencing gnarly cock-rock with sweeping piano ballads or throwing in a bunch of fairly silly interludes with titles like “Fat Slut”. But really, after the adult contemporary of her previous releases this direction of mucking about comes off as a breath of fresh air.

An especially exciting byproduct is that sonic experimentation is back on the menu. However, unlike Boys for Pele or From the Choirgirl Hotel it’s employed in the service of making instrumentation into character, as Tori’s idea of the record is singing as the various “dolls”. The palette thus reaches as far as spy thriller in “Code Red” and renaissance in “Devils and Gods”. Yet the most rampant character in this fast-revolving play of characters must be the use of an overbearing, cheesy electric guitar (courtesy of Amos’ husband under the pseudonym of “Mac Aladdin”). On “Teenage Hustling”, for instance, it wails like a joke whilst accompanying a rowdy Tori swaggering around and dissing her detractors.

It isn’t necessarily at a fault, either. Parts like these are the cornerstones of the album: the self-aggrandizing guitar work, the unsubtle sexual innuendos on “You Can Bring Your Dog” or the classical arrangements on a track titled “Programmable Soda”. These songs lack grace and seriousness, but they often turn out to be appealing in all their cheekiness. In that vein American Doll Posse is not, by any means, an essential release in her discography, but a pleasing one for fans of Tori Amos, seeing as how, at this point in her career, it’s a freeing sentiment for both listener and creator not to take the music so seriously.

A statement like that would, unfortunately, not be entirely conclusive of what’s going on with this album. For all the admirable risk-taking and fun, Amos still tries to have it both ways, often trying to turn a sober eye onto subject matters on the record. Sustaining this focus this focus is a hit-and-miss, be it both in terms of personal and political themes: “Girl Disappearing” is one of her strongest songs, but “Father’s Son” and “Almost Rosey” don’t carry as much of an impact. With the funnier tracks, as well, the novelty wears off at points, such as with the aforementioned “Fat Slut”.

Otherwise there is the undercurrent of thought that the album is an entertaining distraction from what have become valid criticisms of Amos’ later work. Were 22 tracks and an elaborate concept all that necessary once she reached the late stages of production? Besides, what undercuts the momentum of the eclectic, and eccentric, nature of the music is the production; dynamics and acoustics are softened so much it all sounds unmistakably like it was recorded inside of a studio. The complaint that Amos desperately needed to reach out and work with new producers sounds like a pressing concern here, but would become the glaring folly on her next album.

Despite of this it’s difficult to pass on [ı]American Doll Posse[/i] because it is a damn likeable effort. It furthermore functions as a nice document of the humor that goes unnoticed for a lot of people with Tori Amos, which she shares more and more of with fans in a live setting. And if the kitsch comes off as too pedestrian for some, it’s still an excuse as good as any for her to put on a wig and play dress-up for the rest of us.

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Comments:Add a Comment 
August 8th 2017


this is a damn great review, dude.. not getting enough attention either..

August 8th 2017


Album Rating: 3.0

thanks, man. Appreciate it

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