By Nathan Thomas
George Washington High School
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Having not released an album since 2008, singer/songwriter Aimee Mann had her fans hungry for new music. With her eighth album, "Charmer," released Sept. 18, Mann satisfies this hunger with a record that explores how charm is not always what it seems.
Many of the 11 songs heavily feature synthesizers. In an interview with Rolling Stone, Mann said that the sound she had in mind had a "Seventies, post-disco, pre-new wave way," taking influences from bands like The Cars and ABBA. The album delivers, featuring many songs where bass or synth are the driving force behind the band.
The first song, the title track, is driven by a bass line accompanied by a synth hook, launching listeners into a head-bobbing, rocking experience before descending into a spiral of sad but amazing songs. In "Disappeared," Mann sings softly throughout the song, only raising her voice at the end when she raises tone, proclaiming, "That's it, that's all, you're gone!"
Earlier this week, when the music video for the track "Labrador" was released, indie rocker John Darnielle (whose band The Mountain Goats will be on "Mountain Stage" in Huntington, Nov. 4) tweeted, "Is everybody noticing how devastatingly sad this new Aimee Mann song is because holy smoke."
I agree, although I didn't catch the sadness when I first watched the video, which is a shot-for-shot remake/parody of the video for "Voices Carry" by Mann's former band, 'Til Tuesday. Radio host/comedian Tom Scharpling directed the video, cementing his place as one of the best music video directors out there. Actor Jon Hamm and musicians Jon Wurster and Ted Leo appear in it.
"Living A Lie," a duet with James Mercer of The Shins' isn't harmony-filled, but it shouldn't be. The characters within the song aren't singing together; they're singing to each other. By the time the voices mesh in the chorus, when they sing "I'm living a lie, you're living it too, 'cause I live it with you," you begin to realize that this couple is on the brink of the end.With "Charmer," unlike some of her previous albums, Mann delivers an album with a more pop sound; the influence of The Cars is evident. Overall, I would recommend this album to fans of her previous work, and if you've never listened to her, this would be a good album to start.