Mental Illness by Aimee Mann
I’ve been enjoying Aimee Mann’s work for a long time (ever since she wrote some original songs for one of my favorite films ever, P. T. Anderson’s Magnolia, way back in 19991), but her albums of the last decade haven’t hooked me. That is, until her ninth album, Mental Illness, came out this past March.
Mann’s music is always easy to listen to in the background, but as soon as you move it to the foreground you start to notice the dark undertones of her lyrics. It’s this balance of folky darkness that draws you in, and that effect is especially evident on Mental Illness (as if the title wasn’t enough of a hint).
Another great thing about Aimee Mann is that she seemingly knows everybody. She’s married to Michael Penn. She’s in a side-project band with Ted Leo called The Both. And for this album she teamed up with Jonathan Coulton, who co-wrote “Patient Zero,” “Good For Me,” and “Rollercoasters” and John Roderick, who co-wrote “Poor Judge.” That list of names might as well be the start of my nonexistent Top 10 Male Songwriters of the 2000s list.
Mental Illness is a great album, and Aimee Mann is a great singer/songwriter. The orchestration throughout this album puts it over the top. I can’t recommend it enough — go get it now!
1. Magnolia climaxes with the all-star cast halting in their various storylines and lip syncing Mann’s song “Wise Up,” which is such an odd experience but a perfect release for the pressure that builds up over the length of the movie. Check out this amazing music video, for another song from the movie, called “Save Me.” The video was filmed by director P. T. Anderson on the movie sets at the end of each day of shooting, with the actors in the movie sitting motionless in their various scenes. Aimee Mann had Tom Cruise (et al) in her music video; I’m guessing that’s something that nobody else can claim.↩
10. The Wild by The Rural Alberta Advantage
11. american dream by LCD Soundsystem
12. Crack-Up by Fleet Foxes
13. Famous Last Words by The True Loves
14. Cry Cry Cry by Wolf Parade
15. Pure Comedy by Father John Misty
16. Shake the Shudder by !!!
17. La La Land (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) by La La Land
18. The Underside of Power by Algiers
19. What Now by Sylvan Esso
20. 50 Song Memoir by The Magnetic Fields
21. Plunge by Fever Ray
22. DAMN. by Kendrick Lamar
23. Capacity by Big Thief
24. The Tourist by Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
25. CCFX EP by CCFX
26. Woodstock by Portugal. The Man
27. MASSEDUCTION by St. Vincent
28. On the Spot by Hot 8 Brass Band
29. A Deeper Understanding by The War on Drugs
30. Planetarium by Sufjan Stevens, Nico Muhly, Bryce Dessner, & James McAlister
31. A Moment Apart by Odesza