Tori Amos'second full-length solo effort has often been considered a transitional album, a building on the success of Little Earthquakes that enabled her to pursue increasingly more adventurous releases in later years. As such, it has been unfairly neglected when in fact it has as good a claim as any to be one of the strongest, and maybe even the strongest, record she has put out. Able to appeal to a mass audience without being shoehorned into the incipient "adult album alternative" format that sprang to life in the mid-1990s, Amos combines some of her strongest melodies and lyrics with especially haunting and powerful arrangements to create an artistic success that stands on its own two feet. The best-known tracks are the two contemporaneous singles "God," a wicked critique of the deity armed with a stiff, heavy funk-rock arrangement, and "Cornflake Girl," a waltz-paced number with an unnerving whistle and stuttering vocal hook. While both memorable, they're actually among the weaker tracks when compared to some of the great numbers elsewhere on Under the Pink (other numbers that more openly misfire are "The Waitress," a strident and slightly bizarre rant at such a figure, and "Yes, Anastasia," which starts off nicely but runs a little too long). Opening number "Pretty Good Year" captures nostalgia and drama perfectly, a simple piano with light strings suddenly exploding into full orchestration before calming again. "Bells for Her" and "Icicle" both showcase what Amos can do with prepared piano, and "Past the Mission," with Trent Reznor guesting on gentle, affecting backing vocals, shifts between loping country and a beautifully arranged chorus. The secret winner, though, would have to be "Baker Baker," just Amos and piano, detailing the story of a departed love and working its cooking metaphor in just the right way.
AllMusic Review by Ned Raggett