Super Ego Records
Folk rock, 2012
Aimee Mann often sings in a blank manner, a bit like Suzanne Vega with a higher alto, and it is easy for people to project their own reaction to the lyrics of her songs into these songs. Mind you, Ms Mann here is not that same brassy lead vocalist of ‘Til Tuesday all those decades ago, she’s more content writing and singing lackadaisically-paced tunes about relationships. This can be a good thing, of course, as it allows the listener to interpret the song as she sees fit and finds layers of poignancy or meaning within a song.
In Charmer, however, the songs have a tendency to come together into a blur due to the sameness permeating each track. Each track taken on its own has its own charms. Labrador is a catchy and way too cheerful song about being trapped in a dysfunctional relationship in which the woman is more than happy to be taken for granted by her partner. Red Flag Driver has a haunting melody that can stick to the mind and cut deep. The title track, likewise, is probably the most serene song with a message that can be too dark for its cheeriness. But when the songs here are played back to back, the sameness in the singing and underlying structure of the songs can cause the listening experience to become monotonous fast.
Aimee Mann remains one of the more fascinating female singers around, and her lyrics are great examples of well-disciplined dysfunctional poetry. Charmer, however, is probably too laid back and samey, “lazy” even, for its own good. This is one CD best taken in small doses to get the biggest pleasures out of it.