Two years after Tori Amos’ debut album, Little Earthquakes, she released her second, Under The Pink. Stylistically it’s very similar to its predecessor, and I tend to think of these two as a pair. But part of that is the fact that the next album, Boys For Pele was such a radical departure (and I still think its the outlier in her discography in many ways), because this is quite a strong step away from Little Earthquakes.
After she eases you in with the very familiar and excellent “Pretty Good Year,” she’s off to the races. “God” is synth- and scrapy-guitar-heavy and a much more interesting take on patriarchy than I found on her previous effort. “The Waitress” is a dark, internal monologue dealing with how women hate on each other, and “Icicle” is about masturbating on Easter while your father’s Baptist congregation et al is downstairs. You know, that old saw. And “Space Dog” almost wraps things up (and probably should have) with even more synths than “God”; it would have fit well on To Venus And Back.
These departures are distributed nicely throughout the album, which is also made up of piano/vocal/string arrangements that help bring fans along from the previous album. The closest thing to a bad song is album closer, “Hey, Anastasia,” and that song’s excellent if you’ve got the time to let its nine-and-a-half minutes open up to you. A few clunks here and there, never for a whole song, but really, this is basically the perfect sophomore album, exactly how you want your favorite artist to execute.
Mix: “Pretty Good Year,” “God,” “Space Dog”
Really Like: “Past The Mission,” “Cornflake Girl”
Like: “Bells For Her,” “Baker Baker,” “The Wrong Band,” “The Waitress,” “Icicle,” “Cloud On My Tongue,” “Yes, Anastasia”
Filed Between: Tori Amos Silent All These Years bootleg from San Juan Capistrano, September 4-5, 1992 and the Cornflake Girl single
Song Notes: After the jump
- Pretty Good Year – “and burns his CDs”
- God – big statement here with noises, synths, squeaky guitars that she’s not just about the piano
- Bells For Her – fake harpsichord or something
- Past The Mission – you start to get some of her weird vowels and drawn out words in her vocal style that will eventually get played out
- Baker Baker – about Twins pitcher Scott Baker?
- The Wrong Band – very Beatles
- The Waitress – dark
- Cornflake Girl – is there theremin on this?
- Icicle – Tori Amos and I have both written songs about our orgasms. This song about masturbating was so much more revolutionary to me in 1994. Now it’s mostly awkward to listen to. Though it’s till not as unwelcome a listen as “Me And A Gun”
- Cloud On My Tongue –
- Space Dog – The space + animals thing here always makes me think of David Bowie (spiders from mars)
- Yes, Anastasia – takes an awful long time to turn into something. gets really good when it does with the orchestra about five minutes in. the first minute or so, where it introduces that theme, are pretty good, too. If you’re not paying attention, the baroque bit from 3:30 to 4:45 or so gets meandering, but it does reward attention.