Toni AMos
Tori Amos

By Mark Clark

Tori Amos took a few tentative steps toward the mainstream with her last album, Under the Pink, and netted two moderately sueeessful singles. With Boys for Pele, her latest release, Amos heads back to more familiar terrain — the cutting edge.

Casual fans in the market for another "God" or "Cornflake Girl" will go away disappointed, but diehard Toriites will be ecstatic.

If Boys for Pele is Amos' least commercial release to date, it's also her most personal. Most of the disc's eighteen cuts were written in the wake of her bitter breakup with her boyfriend/producer, Eric Rosse. Like a handful of other artists— Courtney Love and Trent Reznor come to mind —Amos' power rests in unflinching introspection. She's never afraid to battle her personal demons in song, even with millions listening. For example, Amos confesses in "Hey Jupiter":

No one 's picking up the phone

Guess it's clear he's gone

And this little masochist

is lifting up her dress

Guess I thought I could never feel

The things I feel.

Pleasant melodic hooks are all but absent from this album, replaced by writhing piano solos and tortured vocals. Through it all, however, Amos seems courageous confused but not especially bitter. She never stoops to the cheap vitriol of Alanis Morissette. In the end, Amos emerges ready to put her pain behind her and get on with her life: "Boy you still look pretty to me / But I've got a place to go," she sings in "Putting the Damage On."

The album title, by the way, is a reference to the Mayan volcano goddess, not the soccer player.