Aimee Mann’s @#%&*! Smilers topped my 2008 list, and sits in the top three of this one, having not lost a bit of its staying power. Another record did leap frog it, but you’ll have to wait until tomorrow to hear about that one.
Sometimes an artist releases an album that pulls it all together in a way that none of their previous records could manage. @#%&*! Smilers was that album or Aimee Mann.
The songwriting is stellar, as always, but the mix between ballads and up-tempo tracks is just right. The production is spot-on, with a gorgeous mix of horns and strings to complement her usual guitar and piano.
Mann’s follow-up album, 2012’s Charmer, mined similar territory almost as well, but on my Aimee Mann top ten, I would place this album first with Bachelor No. 2 and The Forgotten Arm below it.
The nice thing about Mann is that all of her albums, dating all the way back to her 1993 solo debut Whatever, have aged beautifully.
It’s uncanny how you hover in the air of the wreckage that you left behind
I want you but you’re a poltergeist
I want you but baby the price is high
I want you and now I’ve said it twice so Mary dim the lights
Really when you come into the room it’s not helping me, seeing you now
It’s not easy in this phosphorescent gloom telling waking dreams apart anyhow
Cups and saucers crashing in but Houdini blows the gag again then no one’s a true believer
Cups and saucers crashing in but Houdini blows the gag again