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on 2 August 2009
Tori Amos has been a force in the music industry now for over 17 years, and on her tenth studio album "Abnormally Attracted to Sin" offers a mix of tracks which can be inconsistent in quality at the best of times.

Amos' trademark piano sound, as has been the case mostly since the outstanding "From The Choirgirl Hotel", is largely pushed into the background, taking centre-stage on just a few tracks (such as "Ophelia" and "Maybe California"); however, Amos has incorporated a variety of styles in "Abnormally..." that make this album far more interesting than her previous two efforts.

In terms of tracks, there are some clear stand-outs - "Give" opens the album perhaps perfectly, oozing appeal that makes the album feel "sinful". "Strong Black Vine" builds on Amos' work from the inconsistent "American Doll Posse", seemingly tackling religious intolerance head-on. "Maybe California" is a heart-wrenching ballad, surrounded by a lush string arrangement which conveys the true sorrow of the lyrics - and will probably sound even better at live shows as a solo piano performance. "Lady in Blue" sees Amos incorporate an almost jazz-like sound, while up-tempo songs like "Fire To Your Plain" and "That Guy" are particularly arresting.

However, as with most of Amos' releases of the 2000s (not including thr fantastic "Scarlet's Walk"), there are several songs which could have been omitted. "Police Me" is perhaps the worst song Amos has ever released, while "Not Dying Today" and "Fast Horse" just don't seem necessary. While not bad, "Mary Jane" just doesn't do anything for me, at all.

The core problem is that Amos is either too generous or self-indulgent in her creation; "Abnormally..." runs for 76 minutes, however with some rather honest editing control, Tori could've had a minor classic here with 13 tracks. While that is a shame, is cannot be doubted that Tori has produced another mainly good listen.
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Whenever a new Tori album comes out inevitable comparisons to Little Earthquakes and Under The Pink are made, as if Tori somehow hasn't the right to grow older, change her style and develop as an artist. Truth is, she's been moving away from piano led songs for a while now and those who have followed her through the years won't be as surprised by the guitars, drums and synthesisers as those who may have recently rediscovered her.

Recent albums have seen Tori write music from the perspective of various fictional personas - one in Scarlet's Walk, five in American Doll Posse. This album marks a return to the more personal type of songs of The Beekeeper, which at times are intimate to herself and at other times allow her to re-emit the absorbed stories of personal circumstance told to her by others. Tori has long ago exorcised the demons in her personal life that gave life to such heart wrenching songs such as Me and a Gun, Playboy Mommy and The Beekeeper, and now stripped of the personas she created to channel experiences she'd not normally write about, many of the songs on Abnormally Attracted To Sin are incredibly relaxed and comfortable within their own skin. Motherhood may not have mellowed Tori, as shown by her heartfelt tirade about religious hypocrisy on Strong Black Vine, but it's clear that the inner turmoil that fuelled a lot of her earlier albums has gone. That doesn't diminish this album though, and makes it her most relaxing album to date.

Most people don't get Tori lyrics because she writes in prose and allegory, her songs constructed to convey feelings to the listener and inspire emotions that let the stories tell themselves. On this album, intricate and beautiful melodies are the flowerbed to lyrics that convey a far greater subtlety of metaphor than before, and it works on an almost subconscious level so that what you initially think is just an interesting song will start triggering images and emotions on the second listen in a way that no conventional pop album could. As long as listeners aren't expecting up-tempo piano ballads, they'll find that listening to this album all the way through is both a relaxing and an uplifting experience. It's a different side yet again to Tori's genius and it's a genuine wonder how she manages to keep doing that.
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on 16 November 2010
Although other reviewers have harped back to earlier albums, my personal option is that this is Tori best album. All the tracks are strong and apart from a small 30 second blip when she vocally goes though a list of chemicals, it's a winner. It is relatively mellow compared to some of her other ablums, but I see that as a positive rather then anything else. The Kate Bush label came and went, but I think it might of come back in that the album reminds me of the lionheart/never for ever lps in the way the songs develop and the way Tori handles the vocals.
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on 4 August 2011
"Abnormally Attracted To Sin" is Tori Amos' tenth studio album, marking a spectacular 17 years in the music industry. I have always much prefered the albums she released earlier in her career, "Under The Pink" being my favorite. She was edgier and more experimental during that period of time and produced her best work. This album veers towards a return to that form, with some really great tracks.

Tori Amos seems to thrive best when writing darker songs. "Give" is the hightlight here and is a very dark slice of pop, reminiscent of "Cruel" from her fourth studio album, "From The Choirgirl Hotel". The title track, "Abnormally Attracted To Sin", "Starling" and "Lady In Blue" are the next best tracks, being equally dark and atmospheric. "Flavor" has a very appealing haunting piano and beat. She also manages to create some very interesting tracks such as "Strong Black Vine" and "That Guy", which have very intruiging melodies and great variation. "Police Me" is another querky track with a funky beat and bass.

Not all of the songs are dark and there are some gentler moments: "500 Miles", "Fast Horse" and "Orphelia" remind me of the catchy soft rock songs she wrote on "Scarlets Walk", her 2002 release. "Mary Jane" is an original piano led song and bares similarities to "Happy Phantom" from her first album, "Little Earthquakes". The album closes with a lovely piano ballad called "Oscar's Theme".

Although there are 18 tracks on "Abnormally Attracted To Sin", there are no poor or even mediocre songs on this release. Tori Amos seems to have regained some her inspiration and I have a feeling that we will be hearing more creative songs from her very soon.
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on 23 August 2011
Having grown up during the 90's , it's weird to experience a music reality where Tori Amos is not under the spotlight anymore . Not that it makes a difference to the music's quality ,yet maybe that's what makes the experience of beautiful songs like the melodic " Flavor " or the smoky , sexy " That Guy " feeling like such a discovery all over again . Amos has always been a gifted singer-songwritter and amazingly fierce live and even though most of her albums during the last decade have been a bit too long , there are always gems to find along the way . The highlight of this release is easily " Maybe California " , a song about a mother trapped in an unhappy wedding on the verge of commiting suicide . " I don't know when i stopped making him smile / now the kids see me cry all the time.. " says the character Amos impersonates , while another voice pledges her not to " they'll never get over this/ for their lifetime all their wishes / will be dashed upon those cliffs "...
It's hard not to be moved
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Ms Amos is a true force of nature.
Wild, weirdly wonderful, uncompromising.
For the best part of twenty years she has filled
the lives of those who chose to listen with some
of the most extraordinarily individual music of
any singer/songwriter alive or dead.

There have been a few dull patches scattered here and
there across her ten album recording career but any
minor lapses should be forgiven when considered in
the context of the best that she has done.

'Abnormally Attracted To Sin' is no exception.
There are marvels aplenty to be found here.

The relatively small musical ensemble of Messrs Chamberlain (drums),
Evans (bass), Alladin (guitar) and Shenale (strings & keyboards),
support her sensitively thoughout her endeavours.
The sonic coherence and consistency they contribute to the songs
is never less than apposite.

Ms Amos' voice is, as ever, a powerfully dramatic tool which
pitches her dark materials into vivid life with the solid
confidence of a woman who perfectly understands both her
strengths and her limitations.
The fluid beauty of her piano playing remains peerlessly perfect.

It's a generous set. Eighteen tracks in all.

'Curtain Call' must stand among the best of the best.
A stunning song. Passionate, deeply moving and consumately performed.

'That Guy' is a deliciously mad composition whose serpentine musical
twists and turns are both charming and mysteriously beguiling.

The little blues of 'Mary Jane' is a brightly disturbing
ditty the likes of which few others than Ms Amos could
have brought to life in such a vivid way.

'Starling' is a personal favorite. The miltary snare and
elusively revolving guitar chords spin a fragile web around
a melody of almost medieval simplicity. Truly stunning.

More magic in 'Ophelia' - vintage Amos.
Piano. Voice. A refrain from heaven. Haunting.

'Lady In Blue' is a song for a cabaret at the end of the world.

'Oscar's Theme' brings the project to a quietly magical close.

There is a greater maturity evident in Ms Amos' writing and
performances than ever before. Her legacy remains unimpeachable.
The brightest of beacons in the gathering darkness.

Essential.
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on 18 May 2009
I would like to begin this review by saying that I once considered myself one of the biggest Tori Amos fans on the planet. However, I honestly feel she hasn't made a well rounded and completely good album since `From the Choirgirl Hotel' in 1998.

Most Tori fans would agree that her debut `Little Earthquakes' is probably her best album, quickly followed by `Under the Pink' and `Boys for Pele'. Those were albums where the piano, the lyrics, the melodies and the sublime voice all merged to create some of the most breathtaking music of our generation. They were also albums that were produced or co-produced with other people.

`Abnormally Attracted to Sin' does have it's moments but only about one third of the 18 tracks sound like classic Tori. The rest of the songs are fillers that could easily have been omitted from the final album. What's wrong with a 10 or 12 track album?

It is with a heavy heart that I must say that yet again Tori has delivered an album that is too long, too self indulgent and too inaccessible. Very much like her last four albums in fact. Each had some gold buried among a landslide of bad B-Sides.

Tori has self-produced her last few albums with her husband, Mark Hawley, manning the controls in their home studio in Cornwall. Therein lies the problem as if ever there was an artist who needs an editor then Tori is it. When I hear songs like `Maybe California', `500 Miles' and `Flavour' it reminds of how good Tori used to be. But when I hear most of the other tracks here they leave me completely cold.
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on 9 February 2016
Probably the last consistently great album from Tori Amos.
Stunning songwriting, fantastic atmospheric piano playing and great lyrics.
Worth it for Fire To Your Plain alone.
Simply Superb, definitely five star just buy it!
Stunning.
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on 5 September 2009
Un disco con nuevas canciones, diferentes en su interpretación y arregladas con cientos de ideas y detalles de calidad. Melodías bonitas y su piano siempre de fondo, aunque para la compactación y ambientación haya utilizado guitarras y sintetizadores, por cierto, muy bien conseguidos y encajados con armonía y buen gusto.
En definitiva, un gran disco, nuevo, diferente y vivo que demuestra que Tori Amos es capaz de sorprender y seguir gustando.
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on 28 July 2009
I am not a Tori Amos fan. She annoys me too much with slow start stop piano music, overly wordy lyrics and a good voice tortured with strange pronunciations. She has two or three killer songs on her Best Of and her debut album, but the rest of what I've heard is a dispiriting, joyless wasteland.

I am also of the opinion that if she just straight up rocked out 50% harder on shorter albums made up of 80% up-tempo tracks then she could make another album to rival Little Earthquakes. Having said that, I think all singer-songwriters should take this advice.

The common complaint of her more recent albums is that they are overlong. Which this one certainly is. Her songs can be a bit too baroque and rich to digest. And eighteen in a row over 76 minutes is pretty much impossible to get a handle on for anyone who isn't a seriously dedicated listener. Her lyrics don't make much sense when sung or when read from the booklet which further hinders any attempt to understand what she's trying to get at.

I think this album in particular defies anyone to fully understand it, to get the full picture of it, no matter how many listens you give it. So on the plus side you can spend years investigating it with each new listen. On the negative side, who would want to listen to it more than a few times? Can you listen to it for pleasure? Doubtful as it's a ponderous, bloated boring album.

You really have to be a dedicated, and uncritical, Tori fan to get much out of this album. It's not bad if you've got the inclination to actually hear it, but it's full of tepid thrills and mild highs.

1. "Give" 4:13 (3 out of 5 stars)
Mid-tempo with growling bass and what sounds like backwards guitar. The vocals are buried in the mix.

2. "Welcome to England" 4:08 (2 stars)
Banal. It's listenable enough but it isn't good. Her vocal ticks feel particularly contrived and add nothing to the song. Bad choice for the lead single.

3. "Strong Black Vine" 3:27 (3 stars)
Musically it sounds quite nice with a string section sawing away hard in the background. Lyrics can be heard but are pretty much incomprehensible.

4. "Flavor" 4:05 (3 stars)
Her voice dominates this subdued track. Quite a nice song. Vocals are fine but the lyrics are so-so.

5. "Not Dying Today" 4:01 (3 stars)
A harder, rockier song. Lyrically and musically more straight forward and generic, which is not a bad thing with Tori in my opinion. An enjoyable song.

6. "Maybe California" 4:24 (3 stars)
Very up front string section and vocals on this slower song. Nice enough and easy to digest. Not particularly good but at least seems to have been designed to be heard by normal human ears.

7. "Curtain Call" 4:52 (2 stars)
Banal mid-tempo song. Clear vocals. Nothing interesting happens.

8. "Fire to Your Plain" 3:01 (3 stars)
A bit more poppier than usual. Nothing great.

9. "Police Me" 3:53 (3 stars)
Slightly poppy and fairly heavy. Rather so-so.

10. "That Guy" 4:02 (4 stars)
Something about this near ballad just clicks. It's more accessible, not so trapped in Tori's world as it's about someone else and not her own inner life. I like it and I think it's the highlight of the album.

11. "Abnormally Attracted to Sin" 5:33 (4 stars)
Interesting electronic backing noises on this pop ballad. A lot of the words are hard to make out as she uses her usual vocal ticks. Lyrically not great but the music is strong enough to make it above average.

12. "500 Miles" 4:05 (4 stars)
Clear vocals on this okay pop ballad.

13. "Mary Jane" 2:42 (3 stars)
More of an up-tempo blues ballad like Billy Holiday would perform. One of my least favourite genres but this is pretty decent. Some of the lyrics are very awkward. One of the most arresting songs on the album.

14. "Starling" 4:02 (2 stars)
Decent enough but not good or interesting.

15. "Fast Horse" 3:52 (3 stars)
Alright song with clear vocals. Unremarkable.

16. "Ophelia" 4:42 (2 stars)
Lyrically connected to "Flavor". Alright but pretty dull.

17. "Lady in Blue" 7:10 (2 stars)
Slow, ponderous long song. Musically and lyrically boring. Rocks out in the last three minutes.

18. "Oscar's Theme" 3:38 (1 star)
Banal bonus track.

I would recommend reducing the album in length to make it more palatable. 1, 3-5, 8 and 10-13 is my own shorter nine song edit.

I also like to make EP playlists out of albums on my iPod. Tracks 4, 10, 11 and 13 made the cut.

If you like sprawling messy albums then you might like a triple album called 69 Love Songs by Magnetic Fields.
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