Tori Amos released “Under the Pink”, her sophomore effort, two years after her much acclaimed “Little Earthquakes”. The album was met with critical acclaim, too, though it differed greatly from its antecessor, and it marked a descent into musical abstraction that would eventually culminate with the release of her third album, “Boys for Pele”. Therefore, “Under the Pink” is a much less accessible album than “Little Earthquakes” was, where both the music and the lyrics take a turn for the deeper, more abstract and sometimes becoming even cryptic.
“Under the Pink” is, in itself, a midway parade between the ease and clarity of “Little Earthquakes” and the horrid, puzzling abstractness of “Boys for Pele” and, as such, it takes in several moments the best parts of both albums.
Opening up with the musically beautiful and lyrically haunting “Pretty Good Year”, through the whole album Amos does nothing but taking the listener for a ride through her very peculiar world, with styles that constantly change (sometimes within a song) and lots of dissonance within the songs themselves. Much unlike in “Little Earthquakes”, where the songs pretty much flowed into each other making the ride a smooth one, “Under the Pink” presents songs with very different styles and compositions, which makes the whole album flow a lot less – However, many of the songs within it are still amazing, the main difference being that this time around the package is presented as a mixed up mess rather than as an ordered travel. This time around, the voyage is much less smooth than before, but the content of it is just as rich, if not made even richer by the variety of sounds you’ll find.
Lyrically, the songs also become more abstract than before, though the abstractness present isn’t too much of an issue, considering abstract lyrics is pretty much Tori’s trademark. However, the levels of abstraction are never deep enough to keep you from enjoying a song (or its lyrics), since in most cases the words seem to make perfect sense by themselves, with the abstraction being that generally there is a deeper meaning hidden underneath the words in the songs, as stories woven beneath stories, hidden from sight so that only those looking for them can actually find them.
As for the quality of this album, it is unmistakably a very good, even a great album, where most of the songs have enough qualities to make you remember them, and an album where at some points Amos goes more into rock than she did in her previous effort. However, for some reason this album has never been able to quite hit the spot on me that “Little Earthquakes” did. I can listen to it whole, and I can identify every single song of it, several of them being personal favorites, but for some reason I just can’t seem to identify with it as I do with its predecessor. There’s just something within it, probably tied to the strong abstractness that would later be all over “Boys for Pele” that keep me from thinking of this as an excellent album, though it certainly is a very good one. It just seems to lack some of the chemistry that made “Little Earthquakes” unforgettable, thus making it fall into an awkward place where the album is nowhere near being bad, yet it just isn’t as memorable as other albums on Amos’ catalog.
Final review score: 4/5
Availability: The album is currently available on digital and physical form from Amazon.com
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