Aimee Mann: Mental Illness

Aimee Mann
Mental Illness
(SuperEgo Records)

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Aimee Mann returns with her 9th solo album, Mental Illness, a collection of low-key songs chock-full of her lyric writing mastery. The songs capture the low points of a group of people (with her wandering in and out as the subject as well) struggling with the various challenges of life. The tone is set almost immediately with “Goose Snow Cone.” “Gotta keep it together when your friends come by” she offers as a reminder to all of us who struggle with the masks we put on when things aren’t quite right with ourselves. Love that’s lost is another dominant theme with songs such as “You Never Loved Me” and “Knock It Off.” On “Poor Judge” she accepts only half of the blame with lyrics such as, “My love is a poor judge/It harbors an old grudge/You size me up with a thumb on the scale.” The album as a whole has one speed, but that is not to say that it isn’t multi-leveled in thought.

On Mental Illness Mann does not overthink the recording studio, keeping the songs pleasantly acoustic with minor flashes of percussion here and there. She introduces us to a collection of people struggling without it being burdensome, leaving the listener with a desire to learn about the next person, and then the next. While having a sad, somber tone, the album is still quite refreshing, given the stripped-down musical nature of the piece, compared with much of the overblown, overproduced stuff that’s out there these days. Thankfully, we have her voice and her wonderful wordplay, in the simplest of fashion possible, which will lend itself to the intimate venues she plans on playing with the tour. Who knew that other people’s misery could be packaged in such an enjoyable fashion? Apparently, Aimee Mann does. And the music-listening world is thankful yet again.

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