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Charmer

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Editors’ Notes

It's often been noted that as singer/songwriters become more reflective, their ability to write catchy tunes dwindles. Partway through her solo career, Mann found herself recording well-accessorized adult-pop tunes that were deep in thought but just a bit short on hooks. Now firmly acknowledged for her literary abilities, she aims for stronger tunes with greater energy. "Crazytown" kicks into step with new wave keyboards giving her a vital, more urgent sound than her work of the past decade. James Mercer of The Shins joins her for the spunky "Living a Lie". The guitars in "Charmer" punch up the keyboards. "Gumby" rolls with youthful enthusiasm, while "Red Flag Driver" has an extra skip in its step. Fans of 'Til Tuesday and Mann's earliest solo work will be happy to hear she's refound her youth. Mann's voice has always recalled the warm, dulcet tones of Karen Carpenter on moderately paced numbers, and sure enough, on tunes such as "Disappeared" and "Barfly" she fulfills that role as well. 

Customer Reviews

Great first half

It's been a while since Aimee Mann has set the musical world alight. Her third album Bachelor No. 2 (Or The Last Remains Of The Dodo) remains Mann's most interesting and musically astute album, followed by her wonderful début Whatever, back in the early nineteen nineties, and later the brilliant Magnolia soundtrack. The world has changed and Mann has changed with it. Gone are the folky acoustic overtones, that lead Bob Dylan to declare 4th Of July one of the best songs ever written, and in come the fuzzy pop synths and electric guitars. This is evident from the title track and opener, with Mann's distinctive vocals and favourite melodies, all washed with fuzzy punk-pop production. The album sets a direct course and starts with the best trio of songs. Labrador is a gorgeous blend of piano and soaring vocal, with an epic chorus. Mann still has a way of weaving and crafting obscure metaphor into intimate stories of characters - Gumby, Barfly and Crazytown approach this in different ways. Living A Lie breaks the formula by bringing in The Shins' James Mercer for an anti-love song duet and some great lines: "No one bares a grudge like a boy-genius, just past his prime...". Only the trite Gamma Ray and the odd country-esque closer Red Flag Diver drag the second half into mediocrity, which, after the best first half of any Aimee Mann album in a decade, is a bitter-pill.

A broadly successful return to traditional, and top, form

Aimee has explored a few different avenues of late, even as far back as Lost In Space, but here she returns to traditional style and in great form. No surprise that Labrador is the first single, with a very catchy chorus and the trademark wordplay that we expect from an Aimee Mann song, but Disappeared, Charmer, Crazytown and Brother's Keeper are all from the same stable and the album is all the better for them.

If I had to compare this to previous efforts, I'd say it aligns most closely to I'm With Stupid. That's not a bad thing at all, as for many it's classed as her best, but I'd say there's not quite the brutal openness on here that has sometimes characterised Aimee's work.
For me, the middle section of the album is slightly confusing. On the one hand, I can't say that the likes of Gumby, Slip and Roll or Barfly are in my top 10 AM songs, but on the other hand I still find myself humming them on the way to work. And despite a previous reviewer's dismissal of Gamma Ray as trite, I find that a little lightness never hurts. After all, we don't want every song to be as deep and meaningful as 4th of July or Nothing Is Good Enough.

All things considered, if you like Aimee's previous work then you'd be mad to pass this one by, but then you probably aren't going to. If you're starting a search of iTunes at M and have found the album with the curious spinny cover and the reviews praising the artist as both a very competent tunesmith and an incisive lyricist, then this would be an excellent place to start investigating the ongoing pop/rock/melancholia one-woman band that is Aimee Mann.

Refreshing and fun a 'pick me up' album

Having only recently been introduced to Aimee Mann by my partner, and having listened to her back catalogue, I downloaded this with the trepidation I reserve for artists I have great fondness for, and who I want to succeed at every turn… I say with great relief 'I needn't have worried'… The album is a refreshing tour de force. with highs and lows, held together with mid-tempo tracks, it's one of those albums that grows and grows on me with every listen. Lyrically fun and smart, it's a wonderfully cohesive album. Looking forward to seeing her in London - Strength to you Aimee

Biography

Born: 08 September 1960 in Richmond, VA

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

During the '80s, Aimee Mann led the post-new wave pop group 'Til Tuesday. After releasing three albums with the group, she broke up the band and embarked on a solo career. Her first solo album, Whatever, was a more introspective, folk-tinged effort than 'Til Tuesday's albums, and received uniformly positive reviews upon its release in the summer of 1993. However, the album was just a small hit, spending only seven weeks on the American charts, where it peaked at 127. Nevertheless, Whatever rejuvenated...
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