Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Aimee Mann

@#%&*! Smilers

Being the most clever person in the room is rarely fun.

As a music critic, it’s usually a fringe benefit, sure, but when you work with people who actually follow the news, like at LEO, you’re never the cleverest person in that room — and they never have any fun! Our current president has 99 problems, and being clever isn’t even one of them. Pity poor Aimee Mann, then, who always has to be the cleverest person in the room.

In the ’80s, she was too clever to be the enjoyable Cyndi Lauper or the wretched Edie Brickell. In the ’90s, she was too clever to be fun like Liz Phair or morbid like Lisa Germano. She had a pair of lively records in the ’90s, helped in no small part by collaborator Jon Brion, but Mann has run out of steam in the Bush era. Even the carnival-esque keyboard flourishes that help raise her music above that of Sarah MacLachlan’s can’t do enough to elevate her whines about the housewives of Orange County and other old-people problems. She’s turned into Margaret Dumont let loose in a West Hollywood recording studio.

If you’re still interested in the by-now all-too-predictable Aimee, go back to her '90s records and relive her slightly more enjoyable peak.

c. 2008 LEO Weekly

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