The Onion
September 26, 2001

Added Sept 27, 2001

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Tori's Strange Little Girls album was reviewed on September 26, 2001 by the web site The Onion. It was not positive. Thanks to Gareth Hanrahan for telling me first. You can read it at The Onion web site or below.

Strange Covers

Tori Amos Strange Little Girls

The art of radically reinterpreting and reinventing songs is often unfairly maligned. But while the result can be mere cover-band mimicry--or worse, the sort of wacky irony-wrangling that a million interchangeable punk bands use to take the piss out of sappy love songs--the most inventive reworkings prove nothing less than the eternal malleability of song. In one fine recent example, Red House Painters singer Mark Kozelek recorded an album of acoustic AC/DC covers, effectively locating the pathos and beauty buried beneath Bon Scott's swagger. Tori Amos has long made a practice of filtering unexpected material ("Smells Like Teen Spirit" and others) through her unique presentation, but never as overtly or ambitiously as on Strange Little Girls. Covering songs originally sung by men, mostly about women, and Amos-izing the arrangements of originals by the likes of Eminem and Slayer, the disc looks, on paper, like an intriguing exercise. Unfortunately, it sounds, in reality, like little more than an intriguing exercise: With few exceptions, it's tedious and predictable, wearing its calculated concept far too boldly on its sleeve. Early on, a cover of Eminem's "'97 Bonnie & Clyde" provides a new perspective on an already-chilling narrative. But by the time Strange Little Girls rolls past dull covers of Depeche Mode's "Enjoy The Silence" and 10cc's "I'm Not In Love" to a tiresome eight-minute reworking of "Happiness Is A Warm Gun" (complete with head-slappingly obvious news bites about gun control and John Lennon's assassination), the whole affair has worn perilously thin. On her two most recent albums, From The Choirgirl Hotel and To Venus And Back, Amos was in top form, showcasing maturity and versatility without alienating her ardent fan base. Strange Little Girls is a forgivable misstep, the product of ambition and experimentation, but it's a misstep nonetheless. --Stephen Thompson

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