I bet you’re thinking – “WHAT a devoted blogger, another album review already?!”. Well I must admit I reviewed this album all the way back in February 2009 on a messageboard, in the first of my trips through an artist’s back catalogue. Tori was an intriguing woman, and finally I was getting around to exploring her collected works, in a logical fashion.
As my writing hadn’t scaled the sophisticated heights then that it has today, it was a bit of a bare-bones review, and the last of these artist write-ups for me to migrate over to this blog. I covered “Little Earthquakes” in… JULY?! (WTF) and so it’s time to get this show back on the road. A decent time to do it as well, next week is the album’s 20th anniversary!
So kick back and enjoy my failed attempts to decipher whatever the hell she’s singing about. I think I like the album more these days than the first time around, particularly as her “Gold Dust” collection showed just how strong some of these older melodies are.
09 Pretty good year – This feels like familiar territory after Little Earthquakes, it’s just the sort of thing I liked from it, i.e. piano-led and getting a bit more orchestral as it goes along. I just like some of the strange sounding phrases she comes out with, like Greg’s birthday pen. There’s a fun little breakdown bit, I love how it just explodes with no warning, after a few minutes of fairly peaceful meandering.
07 God – While there’s nothing I don’t particularly dislike about this, it’s all a bit jarring and creaky, mainly the weird pained-shrieking guitar noises, give me the spooks I’m afraid. Sticks in my head, but sometimes not for the right reasons. YEAH God, you really drop the ball sometimes. I’d say it’s time she needs to move on from witch-burning, but that’s just me.
08 Bells for her – This gave me pause the first time I heard it, thinking it would be an early “Me and a gun” stinker. But this is just so interesting… I think I worked out it was about a sister in a coma or something? It’s delicate and spooky in a way that reminds me of Bjork’s Vespertine (but better). I like that instrument she’s using. I want to say harmonium but that’s probably not it. Spooky and wonderful for this time of year.
08 Past the mission – Nice jaunty little story, can’t say I’m sure what’s going on until the body turns up and shiiittt… Did she know a hot girl? Is that what she said? I’m definitely all over that mid-90s chorus, but it doesn’t quite connect to the verses musically, it’s like a bunch of different songs glued together. Still, amongst all that chaos it’s a good listen.
09 Baker Baker – POOR BRAVE TORI. A bit of a comfort eating / baked goods metaphor madness. You eat those feelings, Tor! I love a bit of melodramatic heartbreak, and the piano & strings give this just the sentimental sheen I’m a sucker for.
07 Wrong Band – Oh well it wasn’t going to last at that level… Sounds like I’d like it a lot more if I was into the dramatic arts more than I am, it’s all a bit knowing and fine if you are into masquerade balls and things. But I’m not. Call me a philistine, it’s a listenable enough melody, especially around halfway through with that lovely high-pitched bit.
08 The Waitress – Back to spooky, the uurgghhh death moans are creeping me out. I don’t really know why she hates this waitress but I’m all for it. Sounds like a bit of a LARF. Bit of a hot mess really .. I believe in peeeace BITCH. A taste of things to come for Tori, she had some nice little unhinged mini-tracks through her career and this is a fine start.
10 Cornflake Girl – EPIC. Oddly of all the Tori stuff I was familiar with when I first started on her albums, this was not one of them. This is despite it being the song I had always known she was famous for, and also that it’s her biggest hit aside from the remix of Professional Widow. It suits its role as her commercial peak in the UK along with the parent album reaching UK #1. I like it a lot, the intro is great, and has a fair few hooks up its sleeve so at least I can try and sing along to bits of it like some rubbish housewife. Not bad considering I’m not that fussed about cornflakes. That extended outro really pushes it over the edge for me though, LOVE IT.
09 Icicle – Now I’m not very good at spotting what she’s talking about, but is this about flicking her bean instead of reading the Bible isn’t it? ISNT IT? I KNEW IT! Well we’ve all been there haven’t we? The piano extended intro leers from delicate melody to discordant mashing of keys, but the song itself is much better. She’s gone a bit spooky again, like she’s recounting some horrible repressed childhood memory like being fiddled or kidnapped or something. Not just saying it because of the title but this is such a great Winter album.
08 Cloud on my tongue – I never rated this particularly highly the first time I heard it, but that “Gold Dust” revision made me listen to it a lot more (and in fairness she barely changed this). That creeping piano melody is a real earworm. A bit of a meandering tune but it just makes me rather warm and nostalgic.
08 Space Dog – The latter bit of this album I didn’t like that much before, but even this is better 5 years later. That sinister little beat eventually makes way for another memorable piano riff and a blissful little aside. As a whole the song doesn’t make a lot of sense, and again feels a bit disjointed, but I really love her voice on it and those hooks are hard to deny.
07 Yes, Anastasia – More like Anasthaesia.. 9 1/2 minutes? I don’t even remember this from “Gold Dust”. Apparently this is a bit of a fan favourite but I’m not really getting this one. Wiki says she came up with this song after being sick from eating bad crab, did she record some of it during that time? It’s sort of nice but just plinky-plonks all over the place and I just can’t get into it. OH WAIT, at the 6-minute mark I start to recognise it. Love those big strings, but it’s not going to save this whole track. I will give it another mark for that surprising little aside that seems to be from the POV of Anastasia’s murderers though.
Well there we go, an album I had glossed over a bit but nonetheless enjoyed back then, but now rather enjoy. This is perhaps Tori at her most accessible for a while – at least for me it is, painted mainly with lush piano sections and sparingly-used strings. Plenty of songs here that will last much longer than more recent fare of hers (particularly on the bloated later albums).
Keepers for the iPod: Pretty good year, Bells for her, Past the mission, Baker Baker, The Waitress, Cornflake girl, Icicle, Cloud on my tongue