May 9, 2007

Favoring Familiar Silhouettes To New Voice: American Doll Posse review

Three years following one of Tori's more personal albums ("The Beekeper"), Tori returned with a new album promising five different voices. "American Doll Posse," released May 1, was set to be a pentacle of perspective - a feat for any artist.

As an album devoid of concept, "Posse" comes through as something to add to your Tori collection. It features her in the different styles we know she can nail - whether it be the dirty funk of "Body and Soul," the jazzy "You Can Bring Your Dog" and "Teenage Hustling," the melancholy "Girl Disappearing" and "Digital Ghost," the uptempo but subtly sad "Beauty Of Speed," the angry feminism of "Dragon," or what can only be described as Vintage Tori on "Almost Rosey". There are a few clunkers - such as the well-aimed but misfired "Programmable Soda" or the blunt "Fat Slut" - but the rest of the album ranges from decent to great, and keeps the lyrical balance between wit and honesty befitting a Tori album. As a bonus, the album opens with an obvious shot at Bush ("Yo George") which is a good song on its own.

However, this was meant to be a concept album. Looking through the booklet prior to listening, I was impressed with the amount of detail that seemed to go into the concept. The songs were demarcated by personality - each personality getting vocal and background credits for the separate songs (for example, the dark story song "Smoky Joe" is credited not to Tori but to Pip - in fact, two parts of Pip). Each personality also has its own rumination on life and their pages come rife with Tori puns. "Smoky Joe," however, is a good example of where the concept falls flat. The song starts with two separate inflections for the two Pips, but Pip II starts sounding like Pip I - that is, if the way it's set up in the book is correct. This may seem a small gripe but leads to the greater problem. The voices for the album are not defined. There are small references to possible characters in the songs, but the characteristics start to blend from one of the posse to the next. Rather than getting five clear voices, it sounds more like five different sides of Tori struggling to come to the surface. If there were a comparison, I would say it's like your taste buds. We supposedly have separate areas for sweet, salty, etc, but put a salty food on the sweet area and it still tastes salty.

If you're looking for an innovative album, or a concept album, or even an album with any cohesion, this is not a place to turn. If you're looking for some new Tori songs to put on your iPod, there are enough good songs here to merit actually buying the CD.

Final Score: 84.

1 comment:

Joyful Girl said...

I wonder if there was some statement in the way the voices blend together. It's possible considering that Tori isn't historically known to work through coherence. Maybe she just took on too much or maybe there's something beneath the off-putting cacophony, and it functions like the rawness of her earlier works. To each their own opinion of course, and I haven't even heard the album yet so it's all speculation.