New York Daily News
May 3, 1998

Added May 5, 1998

An album review appears in the May 3, 1998 edition of the New York Daily News. It would appear that Tori's lyrics make this poor reviewer's head hurt. I would say this review reveals more about the reviewer than about Tori. Many thanks to Metrojoe and Smerfcrazy for sending me this review.

Aimless Amos is back with more loopy lyrics

The review includes a picture with the caption: "Flake, or Fake? Tori Amos' improbably incoherent lyrics make you wonder."

Tori Amos
"from the choirgirl hotel" (Atlantic)

Warning: You are now entering Toriville. You may experience disorientation, nausea or mild perturbment. Those with a love of words or a feel for poetry should take special care. Theres but one language allowed in this world and thats Tori-speak, a form that makes sense only within the mind of Tori Amos.

Look, heres a bit of Tori-speak now, taken from her new albumn: "The offering is molasses/and you say I guess I'm an underwater thing."

Here's more: "Foam can be dangerous with tape across my mouth." More still! "I know we're sying/and theres no sign of a parachute/we scream in cathedrals."

In fact, you can skip to any spot on Tori's new albumn and you'll be greeted by words that resist meaning, or murder the rhythm and clarity of poetry. Who but Tori would come up with images like "the lollipop Gestapo" or "ice-cream assassins"?

What, precisely, do such things mean?

Poetic Injustice

Images like these threaten to make R.E.M.'s Michael Stipe seem as trenchant as Cole Porter. Of course, fair-minded souls would say that Tori-ville exists only in a dream state, and shouldnt be judged by daytime standards. But dreams arent poetry. Theyre not even song lyrics, and Tori presents her words as if they were expert examples of both, printing them carefully on every albumn cover. Its not just the pull of narcissism that encourages her to do so. Commercial pop trends of the 90's have also emboldened her to spew.

The singer fist rose to power with 1992's "Little Earthquakes" at a point when popular music prized eccentricity at all costs. The alternative movement turned provocation and self-expression into major selling points, in reaction to the conservatism of '80s pop. Amos' impenetrable lyrics dovetailed perfectly with the publics desire for more "personal" statements, as did the extreme intimacy of her music, exstablished through its jarring time structures, quirky inflections and an odd miz of traditional singer-songwriter piano music and cool sound effects. By making the styels of joni Mitchell and kate Bush elastic, the star turned Toriville into one of pop's major tourist attractions.

Three platinum albums later, her music sounds less strange. There's nothing shocking about the industrial effects rattling around in a new song like "Jackies Strength." (personal note: umm........ where is there industrial sound effects in this song??? you tell me!) We heard similar sounds in older pieces. Theres familiarity as well to Amos's murmuring piano riffs, bleeding bass lines and use of unusual instruments. Alll of which allows us to concentrate more on Amos' melodies, which this time tip closer to accessible pop. Theres more fluidity to her tunes and less airlines, too. "Raspberry Swirl" even features rock guitar and a club beat.

Those who like their Tori as indulgent as possible shouldnt fret. Her vocal delivery couldnt be more self-invoked. Its a sound so feminine and circumscribed, youd swear she was singing from her vulva (???!!!!). To boot, dreamy types can always count on the distracted blather of her lyrics, which reach some kind of la-la peak in lines like"Dont give me a piece of your preciousness/flaunt all shes got in our new neighborhood/Im sure she'll make a few friends/even the rain bows down."

Oy! Either Tori ranks as the queen of the kooks, or as just someone savvy enough to understand how lucrative it can be to play a flake. You decide which is worse.

By Jim Farber

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