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Monday, October 06, 2003
Some further Tori thoughts...

The especially weird thing about her slow lyrical slide into autopilot is that, as a bootleg trader and general tour nerd, I kind of saw it in real time. Tight on the Boys tour, she starting throwing in more and more piano/voice improvs between songs as the endless (9 months or so) first leg of the full-band Choirgirl tour went on. And while they were kind of exciting live ("Ooh, where's she going with this, is this a new song?"), when you started listening to them on tape, they were just boring, meaningless, and if you were a fanboy like me and consumed an unhealthy number, all strangely the same, for improvs. That would be OK if this all cohered into some interesting song on the next album, but it didn't, and really couldn't, as both the piano part and the vocal line were pretty boring and shapeless. So the mumbo-jumbo encountered on Venus was disappointing, but not necessarily unexpected. Lyrically, the lucid personal narratives on Earthquakes that became slightly impenetrable but nonetheless sensibly coherent translations of an internal individual language/mythology on Pink / Boys were now hard to see as anything but a stream-of-consciousness flow of random signifiers and targetless references that all sort of meant something individually, but ceased to cohere in any satisfying way. That was what I thought then, anyway; maybe, as Matt and Phantroll say, I just need to give the later stuff more of a chance.

That said, I started listening to Pele again this weekend, and I'm definitely into it. The same melodic trick she was using in the annoying improvs works really well here: there really aren't any chord changes in songs like "Horses" or "Twinkle," but somehow it works. I also realized that a lot of the stuff that made me cringe the last time I attempted a Tori-reunion are actually pretty funny, probably intentionally, like the way she says "queer" ("kwee-aaah") in "Blood Roses." Her weirdly unspecific view of racial and religious issues still grates a bit, but there's a great tune in "Father Lucifer," and the lyrics mostly work. And I now have enough distance to realize how smart and good the total genre shift in the middle of "Professional Widow" is--that whiplash from harpsichord-metal to Stonesy tinkly ballad is delish.

Hmm--I guess this means I should finally check out Kate Bush, huh?