Aimee Mann - Lost In Space
This review is a bit late for a record that was released late last summer, but Lost In Space is an album that takes a while to grow on you.
Aimee Mann has specialized in this type of guardedly-friendly music for nearly 10 years now, starting with her first post-'Til Tuesday outing, 1993's underrated Whatever, and continuing through 1999's superb Bachelor No. 2 (part of which appeared prominently as the soundtrack to the film Magnolia).
But while those albums' lyrical misanthropy was balanced by the most sprightly pop arranging since John first met Paul, Lost In Space is an unsparingly dark affair, all the way down to its Ghost World-ish cover art. Not that there aren't singalong singles aplenty. They're just very dark singalong singles, which sadly, Big Radio has even less idea what to do with than her livelier material. But Mann's used to that, and it hasn't kept her from composing frightfully catchy quartets, as in the album's opener, Humpty Dumpty:
"Baby, you're great, you've been more than patient/Saying it's not a catastrophe/But I'm not the girl you once put your faith in/
Just someone who looks like me..."
Mann's somewhat brassy voice is now completely devoid of any trace of naiveté, which fits this sort of material well. And though this is her first solo album without arrangement-meister Jon Brion, her instrumentation retains the characteristic melange of obscure keyboard sounds and inventive guitar textures that marked her earlier work.
Though the album's melancholy mood works well, the grayness gets a little claustrophobic towards the album's center. Thankfully The Moth, though not exactly cheery, at least picks the tempo back up, and cleanses the palate for what may be one of Mann's best songs ever, the creepily sad It's Not:
"So baby, kiss me like a drug, like a respirator/And let me fall into the dream of the astronaut/Where I get lost in space that goes on forever/And you make all the rest just an afterthought/And I believe it's you who could make it better/
Though it's not..."
It's good that she saved this song for last, so that the feeling you're left with at album's end is one of cautious hope. Which is as good a description of Mann's style as any.
Rock your co-workers' asses with 1996's I'm With Stupid. Enjoy a hot cup of tea on a rainy day with Lost In Space.