Aimee Mann made her “fortune” on impeccably constructed dour ballads like “Save Me” and “Red Vines,” but I’m more partial to her impeccably constructed dour pop gems such as those found on her underrated and excellent first and second solo albums, Whatever and I’m With Stupid. Mann’s eighth album (and first in four years), Charmer, mostly operates in a middle ground between those two styles, but it errs on the side of crispness and bounce, which is a joy to hear (until you listen to the lyrics, natch). Mann duets with James Mercer here (on “Living A Lie”), and she’s touring behind the album with Ted Leo, two craftsmen whose perfectionist tendencies mesh well with Mann’s. The album is well worth a listen; NPR’s got it now. Check it out.
Charmer is out 9/18 on Mann’s own Superego Records.