Song of the Day #1,867: ‘True Believer’ – Aimee Mann

smilers#3 – @#%&*! Smilers – Aimee Mann

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.

Nightly, you retrace your steps again to return to the scene of the crime
It’s uncanny how you hover in the air of the wreckage that you left behind

[Chorus]
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

[Chorus]

Cups and saucers crashing in but Houdini blows the gag again then no one’s a true believer

[Chorus]

Cups and saucers crashing in but Houdini blows the gag again

3 thoughts on “Song of the Day #1,867: ‘True Believer’ – Aimee Mann

  1. Dana says:

    I always enjoy Mann’s music, though, to be honest, there is a lack of diversity in sound and style, at least in what I’ve heard, that keeps me from feeling the need for a more expansive listening to her albums. Today’s song, for example, is quite nice, but just isn’t all that different from anything else I have heard from her.

    It is interesting to me that you have less concern about Mann’s seemingly redundant sound than you do for other artists such as Tracy Chapman, the Indigo Girls, etc. Perhaps you have stuck with Mann long enough to hear more variation than I do, but I think that, had you listened as intently to those other artists you have written off as always sounding the same, you might well hear sufficient variation to keep you interested. Or maybe you just love Mann’s style so much that you enjoy everything she does despite the redundancy.

  2. Clay says:

    I don’t see redundancy of that sort in Mann’s work (though, as you say, that could be in part because I’m so familiar with her).

    Just on a basic level, she has split her work pretty evenly between leading with acoustic guitar, electric guitar and piano — three very different sounds. Perhaps Chapman and the Indigo Girls do the same thing but I just haven’t dug deep enough into their catalogs to find out. I think of both as acoustic guitar folkies.

    • Dana says:

      Well, regardless of which instrument Mann may be playing on a particular song (and Chapman and the Indigo Girls incorporate those instruments as well through their bands, perhaps less so with Indigo Girls), there remains a similarity in tone, tempo, mood, etc through the stuff I have heard from Mann.

      I will be curious to see if the album that has leap frogged over her comes from someone with a more diverse sound, either generally or in particular on that album, and if that might in some way explain why it has worn slightly better for you over Mann’s album.

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