When thinking of prog and progressive rock music, the name of Tori Amos is certainly not one of the first to come to mind. However, despite a fairly solid background and stance in pop music, this talented woman does some pretty remarkable things with the generally tame singer-songwriter approach. Having rose to fame with her intelligent piano-driven songwriting and one hell of a distinctive voice, Tori Amos maintains a fanbase that is willing to most (if not all) of her stylistic changes. While still rooted deeply in singer-songwriting and pop music, ‘Abnormally Attracted To Sin’ shows Tori taking an evermore progressive and diverse route with her music, and while the album does seem to be in need of some editing, Ms. Amos has made a strong first impression here with me.
While I was under the impression that Tori Amos was strictly a piano-pop artist before spinning the album, the opener almost instantly proves me wrong. While pianos do indeed take a valid and significant part of Tori’s music, the first track ‘Give’ is a haunting track best associated with the trip-hop sound. Fused with the female vocal work, I instantly recall the band Portishead, and it might not be a far cry to say that the sound of ‘Give’ draws influence from that band. In any case, the tone here is very eerie and dark, although the rest of the album seems to take a lighter mood in general. Through the Kashmir (by Led Zeppelin) sounding ‘Strong Black Vine’ to the beautifully spacey ‘Flavor’ and beyond, the album has quite a few very strong songs. Unfortunately, not all of ‘Abnormally Attracted To Sin’s seventeen tracks are winners.
The album’s only significant flaw lies in the fact that there are a few tracks here that would have been best left off the record for a few reasons. At seventeen songs and topping the seventy minute mark, this is twice the length of many other pop records. While long length is not necessarily a problem, there are songs that don’t seem to have much enjoyment or purpose to them beyond being filler- and none is needed as it is. While the majority of pop records can be expected to have less-successful tracks on them, the dreadful ‘Police Me’ and banal ‘Fast Horse’ could have been easily removed, while maintaining (and even improving) album flow.
Musically, the most noticeable thing here is the voice of Tori herself. While the instruments and production here are quite more involved than mere piano pop, the music is almost always dependent on her delivery, which- while certainly not for everyone- is very sultry, charismatic and mysterious. There are points where her particular inflections draw a bit thin, but the voice generally works very well for the music.
‘Abnormally Attracted To Sin’ might be a little overindulgent as the title suggests, but this is quite a strong album from an undeniably talented woman. Anyone looking for intelligent and unique pop music would do well to check out the work of Tori Amos.