Release Date: 08.27.02
Record label: Superego
Genre(s): Movies, Film Scores, Musicals, Etc.
Putting Aimee Back Together Again
by: bill aicher
Pretty much any fan of independent music can recite Aimee Mann's story. Having spent a good chunk of the 80's fronting the new-wave pop outfit, 'Til Tuesday, Mann eventually left the group (after three albums) to embark on a solo career. Besides the modest hit 1995's "That's Just What You Are," which was featured on the Melrose Place Soundtrack, Mann's solo days were marred by two repetitions of insignificance (Whatever and I'm With Stupid).
Then there was the sudden rise to semi-stardom in 2000 as her songs were prominently featured in the P.T. Anderson art-kitsch film Magnolia. It was here that Mann finally got her sound in front of a truly depressed audience which gobbled up her skillful, melancholic songwriting. It was also during this time that Mann realized she'd had enough of the bullshit she'd been put through by the major labels and opted instead to release her new album, Bachelor No. 2, under her own label - Superego Records.
Now in 2002, there aren't any label problems to deal with, and Aimee Mann already has pretty much all the fanbase she could ever hope for (especially for a singer-songwriter). Still, she seems to have retained her penchant for depressingly restrained singalongs. But then again, that's been her shtick all along, and as usual it works pretty damn well.
The album's opener and first single, "Humpty Dumpty" sets things up in fine form. It's one of the strongest tracks here, and Mann's songwriting abilities come through in full force with lines like "All the perfect drugs / and superheroes / wouldn't be enough / to bring me up to zero" and "All the king's horses and all the king's men / couldn't put baby together again." It's just a small example of the poetic grasp Mann's always had, and she's at her strongest (lyrically) on Lost in Space.
Other highlights include the simple melancholic wanderings of "This Is How It Goes" and the sarcastic strut of "Guys Like Me." ("Let's hear it for guys like me" she croons).
Still, Lost in Space seems to be missing something underneath it all. And, more than likely this can be attributed to the switch to Michael Lockwood as producer, rather than Jon Brion, who had worked with Mann on most previous work (including Bachelor No. 2). The music is more orchestral, and much less quirky than it used to be. As a result, Lost In Space can start to drag from time to time; it's missing the interspersed rays of hope that used to come through on other work. (Think "Ghost World").
In spite of these few glitches (if you can even call them that), Lost In Space proudly carries the torch Mann lit years before in her quest for intelligent, emotive musical poetry. She's in her forties, but she's just finally reaching the goals she's set for herself. She's the epitome of independent adult music, and Lost In Space is another good reason to keep her there.
17-Oct-2002 4:40 PM