The student news site of Edwardsville High School

Tiger Times

The student news site of Edwardsville High School

Tiger Times

The student news site of Edwardsville High School

Tiger Times

Tori Amos Gets Vengeful 28 Years Later

It’s been 28 years since the release of Tori Amos’ audacious record, Boys For Pele, a bold, piano-rock effort that still manages to shock and challenge listeners.

Critics panned the record upon release calling the album “obtuse” and “self-indulgent.” Boys was the follow up to the commercially successful Under the Pink, which included the catchy, playful radio hit “Cornflake Girl.” 

Instead of following up the chart-topping pop album, Amos decided to set her piano on fire and release an uncompromising 70-minute opus, haunted by howls, distorted pianos and lyricism so sharp, it cuts right through the stereo. 

Amos’ label, Atlantic Records, warned her upon their first listen of the album that Boys For Pele would destroy her career when released. This proved to be the opposite, as Boys reached No. 2 on the album charts in both the U.S. and Britain.

Boys is a gunshot- an explosion of sound, politics and pure fury. The cathartic rage that defines this record is pointed directly at the various forms of patriarchal imbalance. Whether it be gender, religion or history, Amos holds each sector accountable with a confrontational, scathing anger that marks her fiercest album.

The iconic album art perfectly introduces the listener to the filthy world they are about to enter. Amos sits in a termite ridden rocking chair, covered in mud, with a gun in her lap and a sinister grin on her face. To her side is a hanging bird, presumably freshly killed, and at her feet are snakes. 

A few pages into the album’s insert, Amos is seen suckling a piglet. She was set on showing the world of Boys to the listener, and her dedication shall not go unnoticed.

The album opens with “Beauty Queen/Horses,” a breathy six-minute opener that introduces the nature of Boys: spontaneous and intimate. The cryptic lyrics are paired with beautiful instrumentation orchestrated by Amos herself.

“Blood Roses” follows, an angst ridden harpsichord ballad that painfully recalls the violence Amos has encountered in her life. Amos delivers the chorus, “When chickens get a taste of your meat, girl, sometimes you’re nothing but meat,” with a visceral howl that defines Amos’ undeniable rage on Boys.

“Professional Widow,” one of the album’s singles, is a harpsichord rocker, which is rumored to be a diss against famed widow Courtney Love. Amos sings with such conviction and anger when repeating the memorable chorus, “Selling his baby, just like my daddy.” The unforgettable foot stomper ends with Amos’ iconic wail screeching the track’s hilariously blunt ending lyric.

The rage is shifted toward the latter half of the record with piano tearjerkers like “Hey Jupiter” and “Putting the Damage On.”  The range on this album displays Amos’ talent as a songwriter. Heartbreaking lyrics such as “Boy you still look pretty when you’re putting the damage on,” showcase Amos’ picture-perfect ability to capture raw emotion through painstakingly real lyrics.

What makes the album so challenging is also what makes it so inviting. The disgusting lyrics, the peculiar chord progressions and sudden change in tone is exactly why Boys is so unforgettable

Each lyric, while intimidating, is begging to be analyzed and discussed.  A shroud of mystery surrounds each of the record’s 19 tracks. Amos’ lyrics are dense, oblique and perfected. Her songwriting on Boys is defined by literary allusions, pop culture references, folktale imagery and wordplay, making it even more exciting.

The album’s strange melodies and unpredictable nature, which is perfectly exemplified on the track “Marianne,” keep the album enthralling and marvelous. Yet, despite the album’s unorthodox nature, each song folds into the other, even with their differences.

Boys is a masterpiece and Amos’ best record. Filled with rage and profound sadness, it’s a deeply human record that never fails to leave tears dry and fists clenched.