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Aimee Mann: Bachelor No. 2

Aimee Mann
Bachelor No. 2
Label: Superego
File Under: Some voices carry, this voice sears
Rating: 90

    Reader Reviews
How deliciously ironic that Aimee Mann's career has surged to its highest point since her former band, 'Til Tuesday, had a Top 10 hit in 1985 with "Voices Carry." As the most conspicuous victim of the late-'90s record-company merger madness, Mann has received more press coverage in the past year than she probably received in all previous years combined. Of course, it doesn't hurt matters when one of Hollywood's hottest directors (Paul Thomas Anderson) wrote parts of a major motion picture (Magnolia) to conform loosely to her songs. Indeed, in some ways Magnolia did for Mann what The Graduate did for Simon and Garfunkel.

Currently available only from www.aimeemann.com (the CD is scheduled to be in retail stores within two months), Bachelor No. 2 makes good on the promise hinted at by Mann's work on the Magnolia soundtrack. In her mastery of sophisticated melodies and sly turns-of-phrase, Mann brings to mind a number of heralded composers. "Nothing Is Good Enough" and "Driving Sideways," for instance, boast the sort of gently bouncing piano-based hooks that recall Carole King in her early-'70s heyday. Similarly, "Satellite" and "Deathly" sport confident arrangements and '60s-style production that draws equally from Burt Bacharach and John Lennon's solo work. Even "It Takes All Kinds," perhaps Bachelor No. 2's least ambitious song, evokes the simple three-chord splendor of Dylan's "Knockin' on Heaven's Door."

Indeed, listening to Bachelor No. 2, one can't help wondering what the executives at Mann's former label were thinking when they canned the CD due to its lack of a "hit single." With radio being what it is, perhaps Mann's sophisticated pop might not slot neatly into a prescribed format, but so what? If the same philistine logic had been applied in decades past, such icons as Randy Newman, Harry Nilsson, and the aforementioned Bacharach might have languished in obscurity. Russell Hall

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