Tori Amos
The Beekeeper


’m going to hell anyway, so I may as well come out and say what you’d be thinking if you sat all the way through Tori Amos’ career from Y Kant Tori Read to The Beekeeper: the only way that we’re going to get a good album from her in this day and age is if someone has the decency to abduct and kill her daughter. For a woman that has charted the truly awesome heights of her career with the baggage of a rape (Little Earthquakes) and a miscarriage (From The Choirgirl Hotel) strapped to her back, the realisation is obvious: a happy, contented, motherly Tori Amos is as irrelevant, sterile, and airbrushed as her face is on the cover of this album. Tori: it’s over.

The reason that Tori Amos worked as one of the most essential recording artists of the 1990s was that she was always at the heart of what was going on, “Sympathy For The Devil” style. She was one of the featured players in the Kurt/Courtney/Billy/Trent soap opera; the chosen muse for crossover dance acts in the mid 90s thanks to her work with Armand Van Helden and BT; and, despite never touring with it, she practically invented Lilith Fair. The woman was an integral part of the 90s, and she did so by never being the Livejournal on the black keys victim that some people wanted to paint her as—she always came equipped with relevance to the music industry and a point to make. Sitting through the 80 minutes of passionless and uninspired plinky-plonk that makes up The Beekeper, it’s become horridly apparent that she has neither.

The real killer here though, the Luke Mitchell of the entire matter, is that this could have been a chance for a fourth incarnation of Amos. A fourth route that her career could have taken. A fourth fanbase for her to be alternately devoured and beautified by. The path taken on 2002’s Scarlet’s Walk had an obvious end-destination. It was the only place where any near 40 year old with a ten-year plus chart career and a newborn to feed could have gone: AOR. That album marked a tentative step into those waters, it teased a return to the “What’s wrong with a girl and her piano?” sound of Little Earthquakes, but added that FM sheen over the top, making it more kitchen than college campus. That was a tentative step into those waters. The Beekeeper, on the other hand, takes a running dive from a 100 foot board into a lyrical matter that’s roughly three inches deep. And, inevitability, there’s casualties. The validity of one career, and the respect of all those members of her fanbase that don’t drink their Kool Aid from a Tori Amos official merchandising beaker.

It isn’t the fact that she’s attempting AOR that’s the problem, it’s the fact that she makes such a hash out of it. These are halcyon days for the genre, FM radio hasn’t sounded as good since 1985—it’s a good time to be running away from the underground. AOR no longer has to mean “tedious.” Amos, sadly, didn’t get the memo. There’s nothing here that’s as disturbing as “Me and a Gun,” or as danceable as “Raspberry Swirl,” or as consuming as “Glory of the 80s,” or as enjoyable as 98.7% of her back catalogue, or anything to insight an emotion stronger than “hmmm.” It’s an album to wash the dishes to as it bleeds into your aforementioned kitchen through your aforementioned FM radio band.

The Beekeeper consists of 19 album closers in search of a good album to attach themselves to the end of. They certainly aren’t going to find one here. Each and every track here sounds as if it was the last thing laid down in the studio each day, 19 separate musical Martini shots, 19 takes at getting everything out of the way with no desire to make it sound any good. She even cannibalises herself, deliberately giving the opener here, “Parasol,” echoes of Little Earthquakes’ kick-off track “Crucify.” Irrespective of whether this is meant to be a clever piece of self-reference, or whether she’s just ran out of ideas and would hope we haven’t noticed, all it serves to do is mark how far she’s fell off. She’s fell off like anvils in Road Runner cartoons. She’s fell off so far the Making of… The Beekeeper documentary could probably suffice as a sequel to Touching the Void.

Lyrically she’s gone as well. Whereas the olden days you could spend hours upon days unravelling Amos’ lyrics, mysteries wrapped in enigmas rapped in religious baggage, nowadays she’s just reading out 7 across from the Times’ cryptic crossword an attempting to pass it off as deepness. “When it's all said and done we will lose a piece to a carnivorous vegetarian” she croaks on “Barons of Suburbia,” and the lack of interest in her voice can be measured in kilograms. Songs are now called things like “Original Sinsuality” (DO. YOU. SEE?) and we’re meant to think that that’s OK. And then there’s “Ireland,” the new low point of both her career and culture in the previous decade, where she tells us about her Saab and we’re meant to care. We don’t care. You cannot care about any of this. A woman who has delivered her career in the mindset that you can connect with your audience, that Amos has always been the one true blank slate of female rock stardom, the one figure that fans can just identify with irrespective of who they are or what they’re going through, a woman that’s meant so much to so many people. And now a woman who’s realised that having cultivated a fanbase such as this she doesn’t need to try any more. Arrogance is a very ugly trait. And it’s one that no number of facelifts or chemical injections can hide.

Reviewed by: Dom Passantino

Reviewed on: 2005-02-21

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Posted 02/21/2005 - 05:40:54 AM by frantic:
 Damn if I ever saw a review where the reviewer was more concerned with how to sound witty and less concerned with the subject matter.
Posted 02/21/2005 - 09:43:18 AM by Lambert:
 Oh please, Frantic, we all know 'From the Choirgirl Hotel' was the last good thing Tori Amos has recorded. I think miss Amos is rather happy these days. Good for her, but too bad for her fans. Sometimes it's true what they say: Artists need to suffer in order to create great stuff. Miss Amos, apparently, is in the autumn of her career. Let her just do the Cher thing: a ten year farewell tour. "To all my loyal fans who have supported me and cried with me throughout my million dollar career: Let's be crucified again!"
Posted 02/21/2005 - 10:55:10 AM by Liarbythefire:
 I don't see what's wrong with the least Dom is/was a fan of Tori Amos. I'm just surprised Tori Amos hasn't released her "anti-war/anti-GW" album that so many artists seem to have out now.
Posted 02/21/2005 - 11:07:10 AM by caroline_l:
 "is if someone has the decency to abduct and kill her daughter." Nice. After this I couldn't be bothered to read the rest.
Posted 02/21/2005 - 02:18:18 PM by foppish_twit:
 that whole "artists need to suffer" bollocks is reductive thinking and a fucking myth, at that. Anyway, this reads like the author hates women (cemented by the first and last ugly sentences). Seriously, I don't know if Dom does have those sorts of issues, but he really writes like it here. Hey Stylus, I thought you prided yourself on not stooping to this level? What's next, gonna hire Brent D. and Gavin McInnes? Hey, it's the "male gaze" at work, let's crack wise about bitches and how they should get raped and their kids killed and get facelifts and all that, because if they can't write a good tune, they probably have it coming.
Posted 02/21/2005 - 02:30:04 PM by Liarbythefire:
 Now that I remember it and it's been pointed out, yeah there was something wrong with the review. Dom needs counseling or something. To suggest that someone would improve their art if their children gets kidapped or killed is sick. I would hate to be a woman in a relationship with Dom.
Posted 02/21/2005 - 05:23:25 PM by mvdu76:
 That's it! I'm done with Stylus Magazine for good. What an appalling thing to say! I can deal with disagreement, but this review is really, really low.
Posted 02/21/2005 - 05:46:18 PM by pagan_poet:
 And right on cue, here come the Tori fans (the author of this review should be warned - their reputation as the nuttiest fans on the net is well deserved!). In any case, Tori's been little more than been a pretentious Dido clone, making nothing but beige musical wallpaper, for years now. And her new album is, sadly, just like the last couple: predictably dire.
Posted 02/21/2005 - 05:46:45 PM by MyNameIsKenny:
 I rather like this review.
Posted 02/21/2005 - 07:06:15 PM by frantic:
 Lambert: Actually, I didn't like From the Choirgirl Hotel at all. I like the trinity: Little Earthquakes, Under the Pink, Boys for Pele, with the last being IMO by far the best. After that it has gone pretty much...well, lukewarm. Regarding the latest album, I've listened to it but not too many times, and I generally like what I hear: simpler approach; not really exciting: true; but pretty even and with some nice melodies. My beef was with the review, as the reviewer is trying to throw a pun in every sentence, overdoing it grossly. Read the first and the last sentence of the review (it gives a great idea of what's in the middle): horribly exaggerated, unecessarily cruel, and all with a smug and arrogant idea that he actually knows the artist's 'true' motives, thoughts and desires. Lastly, I'm not (as some people who posted below clearly are) that much offended by the 'kill her daughter' theory. I just consider it out of place and irrelevant - like most of the other observations in the review.
Posted 02/21/2005 - 08:18:58 PM by IanMathers:
 "Scared little boys not yet sold on the magnificence of Nellie McKay parrot off the same rote answer for why they don’t “get” this album: “She reminds me of the people I hate in real life”. Yes, women." Clearly just a rotten misogynist, then.
Posted 02/22/2005 - 03:09:35 AM by ajohnny:
 Seriously, you should be embarrased to have penned such trash. Your review amounts to malice and garbage. No meat here, no food for thought. Just vindictive B/S. If Tori Amos was your ex-girlfriend, dumped you, and you wrote all about it in your diary, this is how the entry might read. And then it might actually make sense. But to call it writing, keen, objective, or sound criticism, is to declare a faslehood. This is shit- not hot, but foul. You really ought to develop some critical writing skills prior to writing your next review, or I'm afraid you'll make a fool of yourself again. Dom.
Posted 02/22/2005 - 07:28:19 AM by Lambert:
 Hi Frantic, the funny thing is I never really cared for 'Boys For Pele'. Although the album has some remarkable good (and indeed sincere) songs, the majority of the songs just doesn't do it for me. According to friends who own the album too, that is a shame. Personally, I consider 'From the Choirgirl Hotel' to be Tori's opus magnus. To me it felt like that album had most of the anger, frustrations and questions. After that, what more was there for Tori to do? And yes, Foppish Twit, it's not always true that artists need to suffer in order to create magnificent art, but I do believe the more Tori suffers, the better she is in creating fantastic music. And to all the other people who believe this review to be scandalous: Dom Passantino has written a perfect review. If a review evokes this much response, the reviewer has done an excellent response. There is nothing more frustrating for a critic to see his review do nothing at all. So, mister Passantino, you did an excellent job!
Posted 02/22/2005 - 08:42:42 AM by frantic:
 Heh, being a journalist myself, I know that publicity is important, but it isn't by itself a measure of quality. Think about yellow journalism. One more observation: although some bad things did happen to Tori in her life, and although she did drew lots of inspiration from them in her work, I think that in her case the connection between art and suffering is exaggerated - not only in this review. I think that the vast majority of her appeal lies in her musical talent, fantastic voice, great songwriting, unique way of singing, and technical prowess. The themes of her songs and the lyrics - while admittedly interesting, cryptic, different or just plain weird - are just a smaller part of the equasion.
Posted 02/22/2005 - 01:07:21 PM by foppish_twit:
 I'm not a Tori Amos fan, haven't even heard a note intentionally since '95, I don't care for what I have heard, I just read all these Stylus reviews. But go ahead and chalk it up to Tori fans being overprotective of their piano-tinkling flower, if that makes you feel better. Hey, it's all in good fun! I hate this sort of shit where someone says something clearly offensive to get a rise out of the reader. Either they don't mean it, which means they don't have the cajones to be sincere in their writing, knowing that they're an anonymous internet hack if they don't draw attention to their writing via shocking comments (mission accomplished, haha), or they're really a scumbag who hates "women who happen to be on the downslope of their career". Hey Dom, when ("when") your writing starts to go to shit, mind if we start responding to your reviews that "If only someone would kidnap and strangle his wife/mom/daughter/son and leave the corpse hogtied on the side of a freeway, maybe then we, the readers at home, would get the sort of reviews WE want!"
Posted 02/22/2005 - 01:09:04 PM by foppish_twit:
 Lambert, I agree with your comments, but your paragraph is still a little non-sensical to me. I wish someone would have the decency to rape your mom so you'd write better.
Posted 02/22/2005 - 04:57:09 PM by Lambert:
 Well, Foppish Twit, my mother died three months ago, so I think raping her isn't going to happen. So who does the non-sensical writing over here?
Posted 02/22/2005 - 07:52:53 PM by Lambert:
 If Stylus allowes people publicly to wish for someone's mother to be raped, then I no longer wish to be associated with this website. Greetings to you all. See ya, wouldn't wanna be ya.
Posted 02/23/2005 - 07:31:20 AM by frantic:
 Unfortunately, the direction this debate is heading isn't interesting to me, so this will be my last comment on the matter. I'm sorry people concentrated on the first (relatively valid in journalistic sense, but with lack of measure and tact) paragraph of the text. There is lots to criticize in the rest of the text, and there are a few interesting things that could be said about Tori's career. Lambert: I'm pretty surprised by your reaction; if you're against references to family members being murdered/raped (I'm not saying that I'm NOT against it), you should have reacted the same way when you first read the (almost) exact same thing in the review, not when someone stung you with it with obvious sarcasm. See you guys under some other review. (;
Posted 02/23/2005 - 12:59:37 PM by Hexagon:
 How's this review turned out for you, Dom?
Posted 02/23/2005 - 01:37:47 PM by mayanviking:
 I'm all for the criticism and analysis of art, and I believe that the reviewer has the right to take any stance he wishes on any given album, I think that the way he's done it is pretentious, ugly, and unnecessary. As you said, Mr. Passantino, arrogance is a very ugly trait. Personally, I liked the album, and I'm pleased with the evolution of Tori's sound. There are a few tracks I could have done without, but as a body of work, I found it both powerful and relevant.
Posted 02/23/2005 - 02:16:30 PM by DomPassantino:
 "How's this review turned out for you, Dom?" We've got a long way to go before we get to Eminem review levels.
Posted 02/24/2005 - 07:00:33 PM by MusicNotSee:
 Christ it's not like the man didn't set up a disclaimer, he recognized what a terrible statement it was with the going to hell bit, it's obvious it was just a cheeky bit of dead baby joke witt to illustrate the point of apathy in the music. Stop your fucking whining. It's people like you who make coddled children dusebchanted with the world when they realize government doesn't actually help anybody. Get a fucking life. And THEN tell me I'm an overgeneralizing synical bull shit artist. And anyway, it's not like everything's hunky dory now that she has a kid... If Dom's theory is right, the adolescent years should be transcendant pieces of nu-genre defining art.
Posted 02/24/2005 - 07:36:27 PM by Snorfle:
 I thought the review was rather funny. "Original Sinsuality" ...giggle
Posted 02/25/2005 - 12:50:36 AM by IamArock:
 While I have not heard any of the woman's latest material, this review is indeed on par with that of the National Enquirer. Forced wit and shock tactics hardly denote credible journalism--I will actually buy this album in light of your questionable authority! I have to agree with Tori Amos' insane fans on this one. Mordant you are not Mr. Passantino.
Posted 02/25/2005 - 04:22:26 AM by noxxrocks:
 hmmmmm.... If I were you what would I say about your review... Oh well good going on pissing off the whole world. I guess everyone has an opinion. Just remember Tori is loved, and your bound to make people upset. The person she is to her family and loved ones overrides any critic, so to her and others like her, what you say doesn't matter.... Its just another opinion, cuz everyone has one. And the only ones that matter are close to her heart. -Krystal Noxx-
Posted 02/25/2005 - 06:44:32 AM by Kazanger:
 Dom Passantino, since when did this kind of tripe quailfy as a serious review? I read the first paragraph and decided not to waste another second of my time reading such a childish responce to an excellent album you obviously don't understand. I have no problem in people voicing their thoughts but to start off a review saying 'the only way that we're going to get a good album from her in this day and age is if someone has the decency to abduct and kill her daughter'is sick and deplorable. How this magazine had the audacity to publish something so distasteful really places the question of credibilty on everyone involved in its publication.
Posted 02/25/2005 - 01:30:43 PM by MusicNotSee:
 No, it doesn't! And if your time is so important that you can't bother reading all the other responses that say the same that you did vertabim, if not at least the review, then it really lends question to the credibility of the fact that you havea rational mind capable of forming a cohesive opinion in what you're trying to say. Why don't you do something pro-active like teach your 7th grader to stop picking on the new kid or something?
Posted 02/25/2005 - 01:36:59 PM by MusicNotSee:
 Shit, I don't even like this site THAT much, but if Tori Amos from 1996 read this review in the future, she'd feel terrible, not because of how disgusting the statement would look to her, but because the mid-life section of her career shows such detachment from her expressive aims. This review expresses it's point perfectly. It is concise and effective to get the writers point across. That's the goshdiddlydarn point. It's a rhetorical device. A method of writing, not a call to arms against Tori Amos. Chillax allies.
Posted 02/25/2005 - 06:06:11 PM by IamArock:
 The message that this album seems to be genius to some and hilarity to others is evident. HOWEVER, as far as rhetorical mechanisms are concerned, Mr. Passantino undoubtedly took the low road. Read the works of Dorothy Parker, Truman Capote, or Gore Vidal--then you will come to learn the true art of critique!!
Posted 02/25/2005 - 06:25:20 PM by J11382:
 I heard a little bit of the album, and it is neither good nor bad. But I will purchase it now because of the review. What you say about the music may be true, but it wasn't kind to attack her looks. What mean-spirited personal issue did this stem from, eh? Just guessing, you are most likely an overweight, unattractive Italian man.
Posted 02/25/2005 - 07:00:19 PM by puddledives:
 I don't mind and even tolerate this Dom's opinion on Tori Amos or The Beekeeper. I do mind however her making suggestion that "someone should have the decency to abduct and kill her daughter." Maybe it may take the same for a apology. Dom if it was up to me you would be jobless at this time. Donald
Posted 02/25/2005 - 10:20:34 PM by skuter666:
 Hilarious. Two thumbs up! There's something deeply satisfying about a good bitchy, negative review. And it certainly helps cleanse the palette of those adulatory reviews I've read of this same album elsewhere. This is exactly what is required as an antidote to a "talent" who has for too long cornered the market on precious -- as if we needed a cross between Kate Bush and a vacuum cleaner. Remember, "Bee Girl gets the belt."
Posted 02/25/2005 - 11:41:19 PM by Hexagon:
 "Read the works of Dorothy Parker, Truman Capote, or Gore Vidal--then you will come to learn the true art of critique!!" This place never ceases to amuse me.
Posted 02/25/2005 - 11:48:09 PM by SingAloud:
 Whoa. Who to believe? The biased die hard fans or those who have loathed her from the beginning with no hope of being convinced otherwise? If nothing else, we know Skutter666 went to the Passantino School of Irrelevant Slam Jobs :)
Posted 02/26/2005 - 11:30:56 AM by ValB24:
 Well, Sir, callowness is another ugly trait, even more so than Tori Amos' So-called 'Arrogance'. I think its an incredibley pitiful world we have to co-exist in when one has to make such derogatory comments about a child just to make a point about feelings toward a persons music. If you would take time out of your hectic life then maybe you could see how rich and truely moving Amos' recent work is. And I feel sorry for you if you feel that sexual violence and tragedy in ones life 'solely' makes for good songwriting. I doubt you will be at all scathed by whatever negatvity your review has mustered but hope you can at least realise that your comment was completely malicious and out of context. Shame on you.
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