Back in 2007, two years after “The Beekeeper”, American Doll Posse was released, a strong yet divisive album where Amos attempted to make a statement regarding the actual state of the American society – A statement that was sent to all levels of society, from the political to the purely social and economical aspects of it. The mean by which she attempted to send said message was dividing the whole album into five separate stories, the stories of five women and their personal struggles.
Whether this album succeeds at it or not can be discussed. However, regardless of whether the concept of the album works from an artistic level, this is one of Amos’ stronger pieces of work, and one that shouldn’t be skipped.
Musically, this is a return to a more accessible Tori, and a departure from the horrid quietness her previous album had presented – Where “The Beekeeper” was Amos’ blandest album to date, “American Doll Posse” is loaded with rock sounds and heavy instrumentations, which manages to keep the album interesting in its entirety.
During the twenty-three songs of the album, Amos explores several different types of music, though all over most of the album there’s a throwback to the 50s, with several of the songs plain using musical styles found most commonly through said era, and several of the lyrics even implying we’re living in the post-war America again.
However, the 50s throwback isn’t the only spotlight in the album, as most of the songs in it shine regardless of the style they’re using, from the controversial lead single “Big Wheel”, which got banned from several stations when it was noticed Amos states in the song that she’s an MILF to the funny Programmable Soda (A song that sounds like a newer version of “Happy Phantom” or “Mr. Zebra”, albeit on a 50s style), most of the songs are strong enough to stand out and become highlights by themselves.
However, probably the most divisive part of the album is whether the concept that Amos tried to push with the album worked or not. It is my belief that it didn’t really work, or at least not as she wanted it to, for it is nearly impossible to tell apart which songs are meant to be sung by which of the characters unless you go to the booklet and do your research regarding not just the songs, but the characters themselves. Yes, the songs do seem to keep some coherence once you know who’s meant to be singing what, but if you just listen to the album itself you won’t even notice there’s a concept behind it, which means the conceptual album idea didn’t quite work.
When it comes to the lyrics, Amos’ best known quality, she delivers: Each of the songs handles its own theme, and all of them has both shallow and deeper meanings, which means pretty much anyone can understand the songs in their own way without needing to look too much into the album – But shall you choose to, you’ll notice there’s a whole world hidden underneath each song waiting to be discovered.
The lyrics themselves vary in their themes, though a common denominator among the album seems to be protesting against the state the US was in back in 2007 – From the direct “Yo George”, where Amos tells then President George Bush to fuck off in a not too subtle way to the haunting “Dark Side of the Sun”, which is a direct protest against war and hits home when considering the US were immersed in two wars back then. Other songs keeping up with this trend are “Velvet Revolution”, which plays on the apparent inability society has to rise against rules or requests done by rulers and “Posse Bonus”, in which Amos directly mentions first lady Laura Bush (“So go on Laura, here’s a flower for your grave”).
Other than the complaints raised against the US government and its actions during the album, several songs do touch on other subjects – “Digital Ghost” speaks about distant relations made by digital means, “Devils and Gods” about the silly tendency to divide good and evil, rather than thinking of things as shades of gray and the haunting “Code Red”, which seems to touch on being used by something or somebody over and over.
All in all, “American Doll Posse” is a clear step up from the moody “The Beekeeper”, and a definite step in the right direction for Amos. Even when the conceptual idea didn’t quite work as planned, the end result is one of Amos’ best works to date, and an album that shouldn’t be skipped.
Final review rating: 4.5/5
Availability: The album is currently available on physical and digital form from Amazon.com
|Buy Physical Album
|Buy Special Edition
|Buy Digital Download