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David V pointed us to this review of American Doll Posse from the Orange County Register, whose writer gives the album an “A” and calls it “her masterpiece”:
Tori Amos makes her masterpiece
Album review: Tori Amos’ “American Doll Posse” (Epic)
By BEN WENER
The Orange County Register
Never trust a Toriphile: She’ll tell you they’re all masterpieces. Trust a Tori admirer who has kept up from the start and trudged through the less-inspired patches: This is as great as she’s ever been. And the least of reasons why is the multiplatform conceptual packaging that has trumpeted this 23-song opus’ arrival.
Tori’s conceit here is to split her sociological and personal-as-political musings – her myriad ways of looking at the world in uneasy times – and infuse those feelings into the title gang: five female characters whose personality traits emanate from Greek gods but whose quirks are strictly Tori-invenveted. It’s schizophrenic songwriting taken to some kind of extreme. There isa character named Tori, drawn from Demeter and Dionysus, we’re told, as a reflection of the author herself. But to what degree are these merely creatures from the Randy Newman lagoon? To what extent are the other four women – Clyde, Pip, Isabel and Santa (no, not that Santa) – a part of the otherworldly Ms. Amos? Consider this: They all have their own MySpace pages, with blogs.
Again, this isn’t what makes “Posse” great. As with the apparently ever-deepening abyss of cyberspace interpretations applied to and supplied by Nine Inch Nails since “Year Zero” came out, I find studying the origins and travails of Tori’s dolls only momentarily fascinating. What I care about are the songs – and this time Tori never misses.
Across a double-album running time she tries on and looks smashing in a variety of stylistic guises she’s only dabbled in before – the PJ Harvey-ish garishness of the fleeting “Fat Slut,” the Philip Glassian-goes-pop feel of “Girl Disappearing,” the winsome Nilssonesque pomp of “Programmable Soda.” Meanwhile, when she steps into standard uniforms, they shine like they haven’t in years, and with new accoutrements: “Teenage Hustling” and “Body and Soul” rock like parts of “Little Earthquakes” always wanted to, “Code Red” could have come from “Under the Pink,” and “Devils and Gods” finds her at her most Kate Bush-ish in a piece that owes more than a little to Led Zeppelin’s “The Battle of Evermore.”
Most impressively, this sprawl never gets bogged down by Tori’s sometimes difficult-to-follow flights of fancy. The melodies are consistently beguiling, beautiful and soaring without ever being tweaked just because they can be. And should they ever threaten to veer impenetrably into experimentation, they quickly end and are countered by a slaphappy “Big Wheel,” or an easy hit like “Secret Spell” or “Almost Rosey,” or sublime yet stinging statements on closed-off narrow-mindedness like “Digital Ghost” and “Dark Side of the Sun.” Something will pull you back into her web. Eventually this album’s backstory may matter more to me. For now, I don’t care about the narrative. This is a major accomplishment based on the sheer volume of quality songs alone.