25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on August 22, 2009
Lots of people are moaning about this album on these pages. And I am honestly not sure why. Tori's voice sounds terrific, the lyrics are intelligent and the music is rich and melodious as well as interesting, colorful, and diverse. All on one CD clocking in at over 72 minutes! Who else bothers to do this these days - or can? I certainly don't want Tori to start kicking out 40 minute albums like every other recording "artist". She has more to offer and thankfully does so with a rare and rewarding consistency. Is the texting generation now so attention-span challenged to actually consider this a liability? Pitiful. And as for the ad-hominem attacks, they are utterly pointless and not worth rebuttal. I have every Tori Amos album and they are all excellent on their own terms. AAtS is no exception. In fact I have listened to it now for the 7th time in the 4 days since I bought it. So if you have found immersion in a Tori Amos record in the past a pleasing experience you should expect nothing less from this piece of work because the girl has still got it - in spades!
105 of 129 people found the following review helpful
By now there must be a division of Tori Amos fans--the ones, like myself, who like her earlier work, and the ones who like what she has done over the past decade. I'm sure there are die-hard fans like myself who subject themselves to everything Amos, and who might be lulled into a comfortable coma that feels (on the surface) blissful, but then the inability to come to sets in.
"Abnormally Attracted To Sin" carries on the Amos tradition set forth by "Strange Little Girls" back in 2001. Slick production, that also sounds flat and bland--like it was made behind a wall. Amos's clever and wry lyrics about the same old subjects--religion, sin, womanhood, etc. Plus her inimitable vocals which don't reach the dizzying heights of her earlier work anymore. She sounds like she's been taking Valium for the past decade, lazily churning her own butter, far from the taste buds of her adoring fans.
There's nothing here to get excited about. The songs come and go with no particular track standing out. This is just like her last three albums, and what's strange is she jumped record labels only to make the same album for a fourth time in a row. All of her albums this decade have been overstuffed (can Amos actually make a 40 minute album? She seems musically challenged to do so).
"Welcome To England" is a mediocre first choice as a single. What's she singing about? I don't know, I fell asleep already. To her credit, I liked "Give", "Maybe California", "500 Miles", and well, all the songs are just fine, really. That's the problem--there's nothing compelling or gripping here. Amos is supposed to represent intensity, originality, experimentation. All gone. It all died after "To Venus And Back" in 1999. Amos has gone through a longer blue period than Elton John.
Wake up and smell the coffee, Amos. Oh wait, that's all you've been doing for the past decade, because it's the only place your music has been heard--at Starbucks across the U.S. I expect more from you. I want my money's worth. Surprise me next time.
Here's how "Abnormally Attracted To Sin" compares to her other work:
1992 Little Earthquakes: Five Stars
1994 Under The Pink: Five Stars
1996 Boys For Pele: Five Stars
1998 From The Choirgirl Hotel: Five Stars
1999 To Venus And Back: Four Stars
2001 Strange Little Girls: Two Stars
2002 Scarlet's Walk: Three Stars
2005 The Beekeeper: Three and a Half Stars
2007 American Doll Posse: Three and a Half Stars
2009 Abnormally Attracted To Sin: Three Stars
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on October 10, 2009
In the midst of such volley of criticism, I feel the need to redress an imbalance. This album is Tori's tautest, most exciting effort in (exactly) a decade. Many a fan has noticed (mostly with dismay) the change in direction in her music after "To Venus and Back", an abrupt change whose somewhat disheartening harbinger was an entire album of covers, "Strange Little Girls". What distinguished her subsequent output was a situation whereby diminishing melodic inventiveness was made up for (as we have seen happen so many times with lesser artists) by an inflation in para-musical aspects: the underlying "concept", the production, the duration, all of which became rather sprawling and overblown.
As of 2000, in other words, Tori began to sound--surprisingly--like somebody else. More specifically, in my opinion, she began to sound like Sheryl Crow on a good day (nothing wrong with that, except that we're talking about Tori Amos here, a unique artist whose first stunning string of 5 masterpieces inured listeners--unfairly, no doubt-- to expect excellence as a matter of course). The softer, folkier, more upbeat, mainstream sound which permeated "Beekeper" and "Scarlett" I felt only skimmed the surface of her reservoir of talent.
The albums, mind you, were not bad by any normal standard (not even the least of them, "Beekeeper"): the point is, perhaps, that they could have easily been made by somebody else. They ceased to be unmistakably Tori's, as her uniqueness only surfaced in glimpses and twists, diluted over an ever-lengthening landscape of not-so-essential songs enslaved to a fastidious, often Byzantine "concept" arc.
A return to form was announced by American Doll Posse. The editing laxity was still rampant, but her Sheryl Crow routine (enriched by echoes of Juliana Hatfield, among others) reached heights that Sheryl herself could never have attained. And there was a lot of Tori-ness to it too, more so than in the previous two albums, so things were indeed looking up. (She is indeed one of those artists who draw their musical strength from their dark side, rather than their sunny one: and in Posse, luckily, the dark side is back: which means, thank goodness, no more bees and vineyards!)
And now comes "Abnormally Attracted to Sin". At first sight, the 70+ minutes spell an alarming continuity with her interminable predecessors. But after the second listen, the sonic landscape reveals a tightness that had been missing since the astounding "Choirgirl Hotel", and the melodic inventiveness is back around those apices. There is hardly a dispensable song in the lot (one or two tops: and, let's be frank, not even her early masterpieces were untouchable in this respect), and so many are excellent ones, worthy of the old Tori. The lyrics are marvelously hermetic, the voice mangles away at English phonetics (who else could make "Tennessee" sound like "Genocide"?), warping and dragging vowels like she's channelling Billie Holiday, and the old INTENSITY is back--although, as some have noticed, further removed, and a bit over-rehearsed, even antiseptic. But we can hardly expect from Tori the same spontaneity she exhibited 20 years ago. Or maybe we should say "spontaneity effect". For, let's not forget that spontaneity is mostly achieved through hard work. Despite what the film "Amadeus" would like us to believe, even Mozart was known to tweak, fix, tinker, and agonize over his best work.
To get to the selection: As one perceptive reviewer put it, "Give" is probably the strongest opening since "Spark" (from "Choirgirl"), with a serpentine pentatonic streak running through it. "England" is quietly beautiful, "Vine" deliciously twisted and dark. "Flavor" is ok, perhaps a little too conventional, "Dying" sounds straight out of the best part of "Posse", "Maybe California" is one of her standard intimate ballads, "Police" is a real tour de force, infectious, dark, and rich in melodic and rhythmic invention, "That guy" (the most Billie Holiday-esque) moves me to tears, "Curtain" and "Fire" are sinuous enough to sustain interest throughout, "Sin" gets under your skin (no pun intended), "500" is maybe dispensable (meaning: it could have been on "Beekeper"), "Mary Jane" is the old let's-expose-the-obscene-puritan-underbelly Tori back on top, "Ophelia is majestic, and "Lady in Blue" possesses the timeless, hypnotic, monumental beauty of an old Blues song (like Sinatra's lunar rendition of "Baby won't you please come home" from "Where Are You"): what an amazing way to end a great album.
In my opinion, then, "Abnormally" is a sure-footed return to form after a decade of uneven, meandering, generic music. Of course, as we set out to write reviews, we should never forget how extremely subjective a listening experience is bound to be. My highly unprofessional yardstick is the following: an album is really exceptional if it manages to bring tears to my eyes at least twice (by the time of my second or third listen, that is: and I'm not talking about an emotional upheaval brought on by words per se, but rather by a certain melodic/harmonic progression, like the piano flourish that introduces the bridge "You gotta bring your own sun" in "Welcome to England", or the breathtaking "Make up to break up" chorus in "That Guy"). Those two episodes alone are worth--if we want to be prosaic--the price of the album. Enjoy!
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on January 13, 2010
This is another great production from of Tori Amos. A Spectacularly haunting album. If someone were expecting another Little Earthquakes or Under the Pink, he's gonna be dissapointed. In my case, i've learned to hear her records alone without keep constantly comparing one album to another. This record - just like all the others - has it's richness of it's own and it's wonderful. It's not a record for those who wants only piano, but for those who likes music. She's going to different directions, but always keeping her trademark. She does perfectly with synths and guitars. The songs Abnormally Attracted to Sin, Give and Lady in Blue are ones of her best songs ever. And I just love her political and theological views as she shows in Strong Black Vine and Flavour. A dark, satisfying piece of work.
I strongly recomend you to buy the Deluxe Edition. It comes with an poster and an amazing DVD with 16 videos of the CD songs. I like it very much. She's a good actress. The visualletes of Strong Black Vine, Ophelia, Abnormally Attracted to Sin, Maybe California and Police Me are perfect! This is her best Deluxe Edition so far. I hope that she in her next albums releases a Deluxe Edition with a DVD full of live versions of the songs.
This album must be heard at least four times to be understood. Once you have an open hear and mind, you'll eventually love this record.
33 of 41 people found the following review helpful
on May 22, 2009
Where's the piano, Tori? That's what keeps going through my mind as I listen to this. Some people criticized the electronic stuff in To Venus and Back... I liked it. Throughout that album, you still hear her signature piano style, which is what I fell in love when I first heard Boys for Pele. The past two albums have been dreadfully lacking in piano. I'm not saying it's not there, but it's become just another part of the background music. It almost seems I hear more guitar than piano! Now, in Doll Posse, there were some exceptions - Big Wheel and Almost Rosey come to mind. But overall I see this trend where she seems to be leaving that behind and focusing on other things such as concept.
I preordered this album. There are very few musicians whose albums I will buy before even hearing them, and Tori is at the top of the list. I also think that a musician's work SHOULD evolve and change through time. I'm not looking for an album that sounds like anything she did in the 90s. I AM looking for an album that speaks to me the way that Choirgirl and Scarlet's Walk did. Something I can relate to, like Little Earthquakes and Under the Pink. Piano music that blows me away like that in Boys for Pele. I don't get that in this album. It seems that her best work comes from her heart, often out of her own heartache. I by no means wish for her to suffer for her music, don't get me wrong. It seems she's gotten wrapped up in trying to get some deep message across to the point where it's becoming as cold, detached and pretentious as some of the photographs in this new album. (Is she supposed to have a 'come hither' look in the one where she's sitting on the bed all in black? Because it looks to me like she's bored.) She's starting to remind me of Madonna - trying too hard to say something profound and push boundaries and getting more and more eccentric with age. Alright, we KNOW sex isn't dirty. Move on.
And I have to say... What's with the way she's singing in the last few albums? What's with the squeaky voice? Some of it is starting to sound redundant. She's NOT a vocalist. Granted, she has a unique voice and she can carry a tune, but I always saw her as a pianist first, songwriter second, singer third. Is this supposed to be a new 'style'? I don't get it. It's starting to grate on my nerves. Her voice dominates the cd, again, more than the piano, when they used to go hand in hand as if the piano was an EXTENSION of her voice, not background noise. I don't buy Tori's cd's to listen to her voice and with this evolution in her singing voice, if I don't start hearing more piano, I'm going to stop buying them altogether.
The only reason I give this album 3 stars is that it's Tori, and I just can't bring myself to give her less. I'm also hoping that with a few more listens, I might grow fond of the music. But I'm finding myself skipping over quite a few tracks already. So many seem to have the same beat with very few that I can sing to. That being said, I still plan on seeing her in concert this summer because she puts on a great show and I'm sure that some of these songs will have more impact live than when listening to them in my car.
Anyway, I never thought I would write such a poor review of one of Tori's albums because she truly is my all time favorite. I think the negativity of this review has a LOT to do with the disappointment I have listening to an album I've been anticipating even since Doll Posse came out. If this were any other artist, I wouldn't have bought Abnormally Addicted after a listen. Am I looking forward to her next one? I don't know. Let's hope she starts stroking those keys and straddling that piano bench again. She doesn't have to make another Pele... but she does need to go back to writing music that sounds like it's coming from her heart.
17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on October 31, 2009
I recently went back to The Dent and read my online review of the first Tori concert I attended in 1998. The last three albums have found me drifting increasingly further from Tori Amos. I experience this with an inexplicable and overwhelming sense of mourning. The only traces of the woman who moved me so profoundly at that show eleven years ago are found within a paucity of tracks including "Give," "Starling," and "Flavor." There are some other tracks that work individually, but not as part of the tapestry assembled here.
Tori, I'm going to give you a little tough love here. You need to try something else. Take some time off and hopefully you will find new themes that inspire you. We don't need another album about the spiritual/sensual dichotomy. We get it! We get it! We get it! Move on. It's out there. We've been around this block three times on a tricycle. Teach us something else. Enough with the concept albums. We're still listening, but we're bored. How about focusing on a collection of cohesive and strikingly original music?
Collaborate with new producers. You might be surprised by the genius that emerges if you surrender some control and inject new blood into the system. Give Nellie McKay or Joanna Newsom a call. Get in that studio with some new faces. Maynard, Imogen Heap, Bjork, SOMEONE! Kick off your producer shoes for once. You continue to fall short on your own.
Cut it down. The Beekeeper couldn't be saved even if you did edit, but this one would certainly be strengthened by whittling down the number of tracks.
I love you. I really do. But I can't seem to find you from the other side.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on April 5, 2010
I don't know what to say, except that I want to say something. I love the work of Tori Amos. I've been reading reviews of Tori Amos' CDs on Amazon and other sites...So many people have worded what I have felt much better than I have, yet...Like others over the years I have found it harder and harder to connect with her music but I don't give up. I play the CD's over and over again, I listen to the lyrics, and I don't research any of the messages that are behind them...only what they mean to me.
Over the years I've been hearing less and less of the piano and more and more of an electronic sort of sound, and when I picked up Abnormally Attracted to Sin it was very evident. But I've found songs that bring me into that deep dark place that I love like Lady Blue and Give from this CD, Smokey Joe from another, and fun songs like Mary Jane! I even enjoyed American Doll Posse, I connected a lot to the darker versions of Tori even though I myself am growing.
I never did connect well to Scarlet's Walk I did connect with a few and I didn't connect with The Beekeeper (though there were 1 or 3 songs I liked). But even so to me her music hasn't degraded it hasn't gone down the hole, I began to notice that a different kind of people were attracted to songs from The Beekeeper and even American Doll Posse. I realized what was happening!
Tori Amos was growing, and her music was evolving with her though I do not know Tori Amos. She was the first concert(and last for anyone that I'll ever go to). When I saw her swear and say "Get out of my f-ing show" to someone from the stage..I felt disillusioned and realized she wasn't a Goddess, just a woman I don't know who sings well and has lyrics that I connect to for completely different reasons than for what she wrote them!
I do wish that though I was too young to go, that I could have witnessed the concerts of the Choirgirl Hotel and earlier eras because those are the eras I relate to even now when I am not as in much pain as I once was.
You see, Tori Amos has moved on from all that. She's growing and evolving and is sharing that with us, and even people who connected with the older stuff can't connect with the new stuff that's fine. Because in the end even if this isn't true 'I' don't think it was ever about us (in the make music that makes us happy not for herself sort away) for Tori it was about sharing her soul, her ideas, her feelings when she has them, and people connected with those things. And as she grows and evolves she's attracting a different kind of people which isn't a terrible thing at all, at least from my perspective.
Even though I may never go to another concert, and even though I may never get what I once got out of the old CDs, I can relate to some of the songs, and I will buy every CD always because it's rare to get to watch and see a transformation of a human soul in the very sound of her voice and look. It's spectacular.
I really love this latest CD, and I loved American Doll Posse, the latter had 'light' parts that had to grow on me. I never grew on to The Beekeeper but I loved this CD. I mix my favourite songs with the playlist of older CDs that I have, even the techno songs she's made (Blue Skies).
I hope she always keeps singing, and I hope this isn't her last CD because I really want to see more, even if I can't connect with every track except one, the beauty of witnessing a transformation alone is good enough. Just listening and not judging.
I wouldn't call myself a Toriphile in the sense of knowing everything about her, going to every single concert, owning every single CD (because I make an active choice not to). I am a Toriphile in the sense of her music being the only music I have brought every CD of and can still find something to love in each one and listens to it every night since I was 11-12 (I'm in my early 20's now), I try to give it up, and even though I don't have a connection to the person herself because I don't know her, there's something magical still about the music she makes...maybe it's because I've grown up with it and her music has been with me through everything, I've got a song for every album for every emotion I feel and for every good and bad time. And there's something cool about listening to the playlist shuffled with songs from all the different albums and not judging why one is not as good as the other but appreciating the beauty of what the song or album as an individual. Picking which ones I am in the mood to listen to and just going with that.
Besides, I love how every CD has a different theme and a different tone. And it means a lot to me that Tori Amos has shared pieces of her heart and I for one can not bring myself to judge it, only appreciate what it is for what it is, a piece of her heart and her own personal journey...not mine, but hers.
She's not a sell out (like others have said maybe not here but in other places/In my opinion) because if she were, she would force herself into depression and keep on singing the sad old songs just to please an old crowd who want her to stay making CDs that 'they' can relate to not ones that she herself can relate to anymore.
So...there will be people who no longer feel they can stay on the Tori Amos track because of the direction her life is moving in which shows in her music, and that is fine. Those people will always have those older CDs that they can play provided they haven't grown out of them, which is fine. I guess for me well...I'm just glad to still be on the track and will be there listening to this journey until the music stops.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on March 10, 2010
I thought Tori had lost it when I heard this album for the first time. But then again, that was what happened with American Doll Posse, and I've come to love most of ADP. Pretty much the same thing has happened with Abnormally Attracted to Sin. AATS is Tori's most intriguing album to date, conceptually speaking. Yes, even more than Strange Little Girls - everyone knows what Tori was going for with that album, even if it was a little tricky, musically speaking. With AATS I'm not really seeing any sort of direction - but then one could also say that about the significance of the gardens on the Beekeeper, or the choirgirls in From the Choirgirl Hotel, or what Tori was trying to do with referencing Venus on To Venus and Back. I have this nagging feeling Tori doesn't really know herself why all the albums come together the way they do.
According to Tori, the inspiration for this album was watching the noir-ish short films that Christian Lamb took on her ADP tour, which she calls "visualettes." Personally, I found them a little bit boring and pointless, except for the fact that I got to see the other dolls in the visualettes, which was kind of nice. For example, in the "500 Miles" visualette, you see all five of the dolls. That visualette and the "Curtain Call" visualette were my favorites. But I'll get to the music.
The album is confusing also because it goes through so many different styles of music. In this album, she's used the most synths and sampled sounds (on the forefront) to date. "Give" sounds like something from a trip-hop album, like something Portishead would do. "Strong Black Vine" starts to border onto classic rock - not as angry as "Teenage Hustling" but certainly a darker force. "Flavor" is the song Tori should have done instead of covering "I'm Not In Love" on Strange Little Girls - it reminds one of a Japanese tribal dance. Then you have "Fire To Your Plain," which is full of country-influenced 'saddle up, boys' drum kicks and guitar licks. You also have "That Guy," which sounds like a wistful cabaret song.
Personally, I think Tori finally got the producer part right. Not to say her past albums weren't well produced - I just think AATS is the most well-produced one so far, especially since FTCH. Venus was too overproduced and experimental, SLG was a little too bare and insular, Scarlet's Walk was too stylistically homogeneous, TBK was too raw and ran the risk of sounding lethargic, and ADP took the whole musical democracy idea too far and compromised her voice and piano. I know all the EWF are going to hate me now, but I'm only saying this in comparison to AATS; Tori is still a genius and her music is still the best--and despite my critiques on her past albums, they were all wonderful.
My favorites are:
Lady In Blue
I loved "Flavor" and "Fast Horse" (an uptempo song which almost has this Celtic feel, but in a sort of grunge-y way) from the very beginning, and still think they are the more outstanding tracks on the album. Lady In Blue took a while to sink in, but after watching the live performances of the song I grew to love it. "Curtain Call" is the only song where I feel like the production did it more harm than good, because the live performances of it are so much better.
There are also some really bizarre songs, like "Mary Jane," which I think is more appropriate for her to play during her shows, not in an album. I don't really want to hear the words "puberty" or "hydrocannabinolisomerdranabinol" (however you spell that) in a song, thank you. "Police Me" is a little weird, with its bubbly synths and clanging beats, but I've come to love it for that very same reason (typical of her music).
Despite the mystery shrouding Tori's intentions for this album, I think it deserves a listen for the curious. In some ways, it doesn't show you anything new about Tori - after all, it covers all the styles of music she's ever done (and more), but in some ways, it's another album by Tori to make you dig deeper into your soul than the last.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on December 2, 2009
I'm a huge Tori Amos fan, and so I tend to think her music is like pizza. Even when it's not that great, it's still pretty good.
The majority of the CD is good music, but there were a few that just could have been left out. They were boring and detracted from the rest of the music. This CD was the opposite of Little Earthquakes which left me craving more. Here, a basic 12 track CD would have sufficed. I've always liked that she would put so many songs on an album but that was when they all fit together cohesively and none of them were filler or felt like a silly little ditty she came up with in two minutes time while playing on the piano and then perhaps later fluffed up into some semblance of a song. That makes for fun B Sides, but not for a regular album. Her voice and pronunciation on CD lately has been different than live. Really, in her live shows she doesn't sound that much different from the older music. But in the studio she's really playing around with the sound of her voice and her pronunciations and the whispery and hissing sounds aren't doing a thing for me. She has a powerful voice, but I feel like she's not using it. She has always pronounced things strangely, and it was always an asset to most of her fans who liked her strange ways. To this fan, it's starting to become a liability. It's just a little.. "ex-tray" as should would say.
While far less important than the music, I thought the pictures in the booklet were very cool looking, but a bit overdone on the Photoshop. She's naturally pretty and well shaped, so I don't understand the need to make herself look like a wax figurine.
Few things in this world would stop me from being a Tori Amos fan, but overall I'm left wondering where she's going with her music. And though I want to follow alongside her into all the detours and byways she's taking in her music, I secretly hope she returns back to her roots one day and makes that Bosendorfer bleed! I don't expect every CD to be Little Earthquakes or Boys for Pele, but she has departed from the music that originally drew in so many of her long time fans, both sonically and in her lyrics. I enjoy this album for what it is, I think it is her best in the last 5 years -- but as an avid fan of 15 years, something still feels amiss. The raw piano and stark lyrics has been replaced by overproduction and a softer orchestral feel with the occasional one-liner that reminds you what she could be capable of. Or, in other words, she went from alternative experimental rock to adult contemporary that dabbles in rock.
33 of 43 people found the following review helpful
on May 19, 2009
Whenever a new Tori Amos album is released, it is a first-day purchase for me. I eagerly listen to it, hoping that this will be the album that makes me feel the way I did when I first heard Little Earthquakes, Under the Pink, Boys for Pele or To Venus and Back. Well, Abnormally Attracted to Sin is certainly a worthy contender as one of Tori's better albums, but only when compared to her more recent offerings. Since Scarlet's Walk, she's had this habit of releasing very long albums where the songs tend to blur into one another. Sin is such a record, featuring only slight differences from her past efforts. In this case, the songs have a dark, progressive sound to them which is *almost* brilliant. But while this new instrumentation carries the music to a certain point, Tori fails to carry it the rest of the way. The album begins very strongly with the wonderful "Give" and ends just as strongly with "Lady in Blue", but in between it just falls apart.
All in all, it's not the worst Tori Amos album, but it's still missing the magic that made her first few releases so compelling.