1. Aimee Mann – Charmers
The best Aimee Mann album? It certainly is up there with I’m With Stupid and Bachelor #2 (from which several Magnolia songs were lifted.) What makes this so great is the fact that she hasn’t hit these heights in 12 years — infinity in the fickle music industry. The approach here was more melodic than the past few albums’ conceptual nature with the songs have a biting quality which she is known for and that her music has been missing. This is Aimee getting back to her pop roots. Every catchy melody and every lyrical jab are made for the pleasure of the ear. Plus her skewering of human relationships has made a welcome return: “Disappeared:” “I guess I had a free ride/But now I join the queue/Of people dead to you,” “Soon Enough:” “Cause what’s more fun/Than other people’s hell,” “Living a Lie:” “No one bears a grudge/Like a boy genius/Just past his prime, “Gamma Ray:” “And one thing leads to another/And none of it’s good.” Of course, none of this would mean anything without Aimee’s earworm melodies. There is so much here that is instantly accessible and worthy of repeat listenings, and while the arrangements broker no new ground, Charmers revels in what has become Aimee’s signature sound. It’s been 12 years since she topped this list and it’s great to have her back.
Favorite songs: “Disappeared,” “Crazytown,” “Soon Enough,” “Gumby,” “Gamma Ray”