Under The Pink

Tori Amos

Atlantic Records, 1994


REVIEW BY: Sean McCarthy


Little Earthquakes was the sound of a diary opened up. Long before Alanis Morissette became the media-dubbed "pioneer" of confessional female angst music, Tori Amos's landmark breakthrough laid the foundation for artists like Morissette to flourish. However, Little Earthquakes was so emotionally raw, so stark that it was almost impossible to imitate, like Nevermind or Ten.

The few critics that Tori Amos had in the early '90s were no doubt curious as to what Amos would do for her follow-up. With Little Earthquakes, she pretty much laid herself out to the public. Reopening the wounds covered on her first album would have cheapened the impact of my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Little Earthquakes and limited her range as an artist. For Under The Pink, Amos chose to record a straightforward album... as straightforward as Amos could get.

Gone (mostly) are the first-person narratives of Little Earthquakes. However, her favorite topics (god, religious persecution and sex) are still prevalent, but with more rockin' arrangements. Amos also adds a much-needed tongue-in-cheek humor to Under The Pink. "God" is more of a coy 'wink wink' tease that the divine creator really needs a date and for all its anger, "Waitress" is really just about wanting to take out a waitress who gives you shitty service; even Jerry Falwell can probably relate to that.

Probably the biggest surprise on Under The Pink is "Past The Mission." When I read the liner notes and saw Trent Reznor was supporting vocals, I was expecting a superstar pairing of the most dynamic voices of the early '90s. But with the first listen of the song, you can barely hear Reznor's voice; it's slightly louder than a faint whisper.

Under The Pink had some of Amos's best songs smack in the middle of the album. Listen to "Cornflake Girl" now and the impact remains the same; longtime listeners may even feel some frustration that Amos hasn't opted to succumb to her Led Zeppelin fixation in a long time. "Icicle" is perhaps the song that defines the album; it's humorous, fiercely intimate and fragile.

While Under The Pink was intended to be a straightforward album, it's far from boring. Those who were initially scared off by the intensity of Little Earthquakes could warm up to Under the Pink, while the album retained Amos's quirkiness. She released her breakthrough, followed it up by releasing her straightforward rock album and would go on to record her 'epic' album with Boys For Pele. While it will almost be impossible for Amos to top her debut (not counting Y Kant Tori Read), Under The Pink remains Amos's most consistent and listenable album.

Rating: A

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© 2005 Sean McCarthy and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Atlantic Records, and is used for informational purposes only.