A review of The Beekeeper appeared in the March 29, 2005 edition of The Massachusetts Daily Collegian.
You can read this review online at dailycollegian.com or below:
'Beekeeper' creates a buzz
Tori Amos' newest album experiments with a new sound
by Carey Zigouras, Collegian Correspondent
At first listen, Tori Amos' ninth studio album, "The Beekeeper," sounds no different stylistically from her previous album, 2002's "Scarlet's Walk." However, it's her lyrics that present a sense of closure to the journey experienced on her last record.
"Scarlet's Walk" left listeners at the end of a road trip, traveling along with Amos and her struggle through personal relationships. These personal themes were tied together by the recreation of the brutality and beauty of America's history. As per usual for Amos, the album was a collection of allusions, specifically to Native American folklore and stories, and combined sexual, religious, and feminist imagery created by her powerful manipulation of descriptive language. "The Beekeeper" is the conclusion to this voyage.
The intensity and directness of the opening track are thrown at the listener with the first words that writhe out of Amos' mouth: "When I come to terms with this my world will be changed. This song, "Parasol," reveals her desire to be at peace, and as the album progressively spins we are led to believe that she will be at her goal by the end. Even as the tracks waver from letting go and holding on she implies that one foot is already out the door.
The repetition of phrases such as "I know now that it's over" on the gospel-inspired track "Witness" are so obvious that the Tori fan eventually longs for the cryptic collection of images which usually dominate Amos' lyrics. On this same track, Amos uses her haunting yet honest voice to convey the difficulty of moving forward despite her desire to heal. But by this point it has become apparant that Amos has matured emotionally, so her attempts to be childish and creative are misplaced.
Amos revisits the idea of protesting original sin on "Original Sinsuality," a flashback to the lyric from "Raspberry Swirl" in which she says, "In the garden I did no crime." However, the song has no colorful lyrics and the title becomes the most original thing about the song, and becomes more of a gimmick.
The standout track named after the album will leave the listener with goosebumps. "The Beekeeper" creates a mood of impending reckoning with its electronic noise that subtely resembles buzzing and its anxious lyrics. Centering around the image of queen bee and her worker bee, Amos notes not to be confused by her just passing by because one day she will come for her. Amos' ability to lill her voice from shrillness to lower scratchiness smoothly radiate almost every track, but this track stands out, especially in the line "she's coming for you."
"The Power of Orange Knickers," which features Damien Rice on vocals, may be difficult to appreciate if you are not a fan of Amos' kookiness and wildly vivid imagination. And even if you are a fan, Amos' childish chanting now seems like a gimmick to show that although she has matured she has maintained her childishness.
On the worst track of the album, "Hoochie Woman," Amos tries to recreate the edgier sounds of 1998's "From the Choirgirl Hotel" which center around the power relations of sex. Amos attempts to recreate the grittiness of these issues light-heartedly on "Hoochie Woman," yet in eradicating the simultaneous personal and detached emptiness she loses her effectiveness. At first, it seems as if Amos strives to relax her grip on the heaviness of more serious issues. But without her usual imagery-compacted language and stylistic passion, she resorts to less passionate ways of saying the same thing over again.
Overall, it seems as if Amos is letting go of her past, and in this album she has let go of the intense passion that makes her great. Fans of "Scarlet's Walk" who want closure and maturation will get it on this album, as each track functions as a closing track. But for those who enjoy her stylistic experimentation, from the intimate piano to her techno remixes, and her dense language will find this album lacking.