On Rotation: Tori Amos, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Mansun

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Tori Amos – To Venus and Back (1999)

Believe it or not, this is my go-to Amos album. The sound, both airy and dense, does muffle and cloud the songs a little. However, it’s the sound I appreciate, especially since To Venus and Back came just before Amos began to forsake songs and sound in favour of concept. Plus, the live recording on the second disc is just gravy.

Favourite track: “Bliss” may have been the only Venus track to make it onto Amos’ Tales of a Librarian best of, but “Glory of the 80s” is this album’s centerpiece.

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Siouxsie and the Banshees – Peepshow (1988)

This album doesn’t get much love (did it even get a remastered edition along with so many of the band’s others?), but I’m fond of it. It may not be as strong as the band’s past work, and it does seem to mark the start of a downward slide that they never pulled out of, but there’s only one song I don’t enjoy here. Ironically, it’s “Peek-a-Boo,” which was a successful single.

Favourite track: “The Killing Jar.” Best single from the album.

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Mansun – Attack of the Grey Lantern (1996)

The most interesting Britpop was always happening outside the edges of the “Blur or Oasis?” question. Mansun may not be in the same league as The Divine Comedy, Pulp or The Boo Radleys, but only because they never produced more than one great album. And Attack of the Grey Lantern does have greatness to it. It’s big yet complex, and bursting with ideas. You don’t even need to know it’s almost a concept album to appreciate the twists and turns in the lyrics, the rhythms in the vocals, or the contemptuous streak that makes it feel so cohesive.

Favourite track: “Stripper Vicar.” Can’t think what I could mean by “rhythms in the vocals?” Listen to this one.

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