When I bought American Doll Posse, I honestly
didn’t know what to expect. I’m not a “tori-phile”, my only real exposure to her was from the ’92 album “Little Earthquakes.”
Since the late 1980s Tori has been around. From the not-so-popular synth rock band ‘Y Kant Tori Read’ to her solo career that skyrocketed with “Little Earthquakes”, Tori has made sure that her voice and music have had a constant presence.
The release of her 9th album, “American Doll Posse” presents a unique view of Tori, and indeed of an individual person. As it says on the description on her main site, “After centuries of being dismembered, literally and figuratively, by the ruling patriarchy the feminine essence has reassembled to take back the power.” The album introduces Tori as several characters: Tori, Clyde, Pip, Isabel and Santa. The CD booklet goes on to give a ‘self-written’ intro by each character and different songs on the album are performed vocally by different characters. For example, Isabel is interested in documenting events and people (she’s on the front cover, with the camera.), and the first song on the album “Yo, George” is her song.
Pip (my personal favorite) is the darkest member of the group-both in appearance and in lyrical content. Her voice has a significantly different accent from the others, as illustrated by the song “Teenage Hustlin'” (definitely a favorite of mine!)
Yet, despite the different voices it’s clear that the overall effect isn’t one of distinct voices who have nothing in common. We can all identify with Clyde’s songs, with Tori’s, with Pip’s, Santa’s, and Isabel’s. And that’s the point.
As the description of the album suggests, individual facets of a woman’s personality has indeed been seperated from others. The most glaring example-The Spice Girls. Each woman in that girl group represented something-“Baby Spice” represented ‘innocence’ and immaturity while “Sporty Spice” represented an athletic woman. Yet none of these personality characteristics blended-Baby was Baby, Sporty was Sporty, etc. They were one sided. To imagine the different personalities coming together in one person to form a more complex human being was an impossibility. As Dafna Lemish noted in “Spice World: Constructing Femininity the Popular Way”, the movie presented an interesting dilemma. “[in “Spice World”] When the girls try humorously to take each other’s roles through appearances they discover how uncomfortable they are and revert back to their exaggerated uni-dimensional ‘selves.'”
In addition to that women are parceled out as ‘house wives’, ‘career women’, ‘cheerleaders’, or ‘one of the guys’ (among manyothers). For a woman to be a multi-dimensional human being is simply unheard of. But we are. And that is what makes this album so wonderful and worth having.
“American Doll Posse” is indeed a treasure chest. It’s an album you’ll want to spend several hours with. Between the lyrics, the beautiful images, the music and the vocals, you’ll want to come to a deeper understanding of it, Tori herself, and maybe even yourself!
(“Beauty. What is that to you? A) Architecture B) the lighto on the water turning it into aquamarine C) another woman’s face or hair or figure that you quietly crave for 30 seconds. Passion. Are you passionate about anything? What do you see when you look in the mirror? Stop. Don’t turn away. Stay a while. Let’s look closer. No. You are not allowed to find the faults first, not in my game. We will find the Beauty first.”)
(from left: Clyde, Isabel, Tori, Santa and Pip)