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Album review: Tori Amos' 'Abnormally Attracted to Sin'

May 18, 2009 |  7:20 pm

Abnormalcp From the blood-soaked opening thumps of "Abnormally Attracted to Sin," it's obvious that Tori Amos is still the reigning muse for mystic goth girls. A 17-song steam trunk of an album, the new collection strikes a canny balance between Victorian-inspired decadence, mythical pathos and arch camp. For all her theatrics, Amos is also the warm and wise sister-goddess, passing on advice she's learned the hard way.

"Abnormally Attracted to Sin," a wild-girl wink of a title if there ever was one, is rife with idiosyncrasies. "Welcome to England" is a silken glove with a few dropped stitches, specifically a guitar line that sounds borrowed from an '80s sitcom theme.

Occasionally Amos, her British husband-producer Mark Hawley and co-producer Marcel Van Limbeek smear too much pancake makeup on an already gussied up affair. But when the record hits the sweet slithery spot, like on the title track, the album's themes of temptation -- whether that be to fundamental religion, self-destruction or self-medicating vices -- simmer together with wit and heart.

It's a relief to hear something bright and muscular. "Not Dying Today" is a survivor's song, with the second-hand wisdom that music and good friends can ward off death, at least temporarily.

-- Margaret Wappler

Tori Amos
"Abnormally Attracted to Sin"
(Universal Republic Records)

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