Aimee Mann: @#%&! Smilers

Music  |  Reviews
Aimee Mann: @#%&! Smilers

Aimee Mann made a conscious decision to record her latest album, @#%&! Smilers, without the use of electric guitars. While that sounds like a huge stretch for someone who has built her sound around the instrument, the result is simply a more keyboard-centric entry into her consistently excellent solo catalog. “Freeway” uses Cars synthesizers and way-out-front bass, and is her most radio-friendly single since radio was friendly to her. The lack of electric actually works best on the more uptempo songs like “Borrowing Time,” where the organ, piano and even horns drive the song rather than the subtle, adult-contemporary flourishes on songs like “It’s Over” and “Phoenix.” The best song on the album, “Thirty One Today,” is classic Aimee Mann adult angst—“I thought my life would be better by now.” Overall, it’s a minor tinkering with a formula that didn’t need much work.

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