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While several reviews of American Doll Posse have measured it against Björk’s Volta, The Deseret News’ Scott Iwasaki pairs it up with Nine Inch Nails’ Year Zero and finds them both worthy in light of each artist’s past triumphs.
NIN, Amos still thinking alike
By Scott Iwasaki
Deseret Morning News
A few weeks ago, I received the new Nine Inch Nails CD, “Year Zero.” That same week, I was graced with Tori Amos’ new album “American Doll Posse.”
Was it a coincidence? Perhaps. But I couldn’t help thinking about the early 1990s when Amos and Nine Inch Nails’ frontman and conceptor Trent Reznor were spending a lot of time together.
While some may say they were dating, others said that the two just respected each other’s music and liked each other’s company. In fact, Amos’ 1992 song “Precious Things,” taken from her album “Little Earthquakes,” mentions pretty girls and their “nine inch nails.” Four years later, Amos released the album “Boys for Pele.” A song from that album called “Caught a Lite Sneeze” features the line “made my own pretty hate machine,” which, as fans know, is a reference to NIN’s 1989 debut album.
At any rate, having these two albums cross my desk at the same time was a little inspiring.
Strangely enough, a few days later a friend of mine gave me a collection of rare Amos stuff that I have since been slowly putting into my iTunes.
So Amos and Reznor have not been far from my mind.
How do the two new albums stack up against these artists’ past albums?
For one thing, Amos’ “American Doll Posse” is better than her last album, “The Beekeeper.” I don’t know, there was something I didn’t like about “The Beekeeper.” I believe it was because her trademark Bosendorfer piano was muddied in the mix, and because her “alternative” edge was buffered a bit.
“American Doll Posse” brings back the edge. There are more guitars, and the piano is front and center. And, in keeping with Amos’ past quirkiness, each song on the album is sung by one of Amos’ alter-egos — angst-ridden Pip, anti-war activist waif Isabel, epic-minded Clyde, chameleon Santa and, of course, the introspective Tori.
And, to no one’s surprise, the album leans to the left. With the opening song, “Yo George,” what else could it be?
The album’s dynamic mix balances each of the alt-egos’ idiosyncracies, and the song list sequencing is smooth. “American Doll Posse” is good, solid Tori Amos.
As for Reznor, well, “Year Zero” is back in the anger area. NIN’s last album, “With Teeth,” could be considered the band’s pop album. Catchy licks and beats peppered with somewhat milder lyrics made a good NIN album, but it wasn’t the best of the crop.
“Year Zero,” which took the concept-album idea far into the reaches of Internet conspiracy Web sites — most created by Reznor’s go-to staff — is a musical portrayal of a once proud society that is riddled with corruption, greed, class-power struggles and near authoritarian leadership. NIN fans and anyone who listens to the album or reads the lyrics will more than likely understand this society is what Reznor sees as the United States.
While NIN’s major breakthrough album “Downward Spiral” examined the steps of a person’s downhill slide into suicide and “The Fragile” is loosely based on the struggles of addictions (substance and media), “Year Zero” is Reznor’s anti-war, anti-authoritarian and anti-Republican album.
It seems he and Amos still think alike.
Nine Inch Nails is back in form. And wouldn’t it be cool to see a tour package with Tori Amos and Nine Inch Nails co-headlining?
Hey, I can dream.