American Doll Posse
Tori Amos had too many songs, too many styles, too much to say for her ninth record, and only two options: either leave some of the material behind for later, or find a way to include it all. Enter Pip, Santa, Isabel and Clyde, alteregos Amos uses as a way to break up the staggering 23 tracks of American Doll Posse, assigning specific tracks to the five characters (including herself, and she points out that Bowie did the same thing with Ziggy Stardust, so quit your eye-rolling). Of course it's too long. But it's a thrilling experiment. The piano is still there, but it's accompanied in full by furious guitars, pounding drums and '80s rhythms that throw back to both the Y Kant Tori Read era and the 1996 masterpiece Boys for Pele, itself an epic, polarizing, difficult album. "You think I am your possession, but you're messing with a Southern girl," she warns on the clap-along first single "Big Wheel," and it's the tip of a very womanly iceberg. Amos rages in voices pretty and yelping against the patriarchal machine—call it god, call it Bush, call it America, and she does—with a force that hasn't been felt in a decade (track titles include "Fat Slut," "Disappearing Girl" and "Mr. Bad Man"). "Your dragon needs slaying," she declares to her lover on the closer, and how lucky are we that she keeps up her fight, with help and, more poignantly, without.