Tori Amos's tenth studio album is her first without the constraints of a major label, as the North Carolina-born pianist finished her three-album deal with Epic upon the release of 2007's 'American Doll Posse'. In that case, should we expect something even more off-the-wall than usual with 'Abnormally Attracted to Sin'? Well, for one thing, Amos's self-production on this album is apparent, if only through a glance at the tracklisting. 18 tracks spread over 1.2 hours is excessive in anyone's case - but then again, she's not been known for her brevity in recent years, with her last three records spanning a similar elongated running time.
Apart from that, 'Abnormally Attracted to Sin' is a reasonably good effort. Perhaps she'll never surpass the quality of her early material, but there are songs here that at least attempt to equal it: 'Strong Black Vine' is an initial highlight, its twisted pop-rock soundtrack illuminated by red hot flashes of violin, while the bustling, acoustic guitar-based 'Fast Horse' is probably the catchiest track on offer.
Elsewhere, Amos dabbles in experimental otherworldliness. Her clenched-teeth, Kate Bush-esque warble entwines itself around the ominous backgrounds of 'Welcome to England' and the snappy, oddball beat of 'Police Me' - but it's still the simple piano-and-voice numbers like 'Mary Jane' and the sad love story-gone-askew 'Maybe California' that ring truest. In fact, it sounds at times like Amos is actively trying to be 'weird', when it's abundantly clear that she excels while she's just being herself. Acceptable, but not enchanting.