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Aimee Mann 

@#%&*! Smilers

Aimee Mann
@#%&*! Smilers
A dealer in grim-yet-hooky popcraft, Aimee Mann consistently delivers tales of characters adrift in melancholy, Southern California-style. But her last two non-holiday records, Lost In Space and The Forgotten Arm, have nothing on this one. Tracks like the Wurlitzer-adorned lead single "Freeway," about a friend's addiction problems, and the early-life-crisis ode "31 Today," bleed with typically gloomy lyrics ("I thought my life would be better by now, but it's not and I don't know where to turn") but are carried by perfect melodies that linger in your head like garlic. At 47, six albums (and an EP) into a solo career, Mann has made a masterpiece.
---Carsten Knox

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Vol 25, No 21
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