Copyright 2000 The Houston Chronicle Publishing Company  
The Houston Chronicle

May 28, 2000, Sunday 2 STAR EDITION


LENGTH: 362 words

HEADLINE: Rejecting the single life;
Taken as a whole, 'Bachelor' shines



   Bachelor No. 2 (Or The Last Remains of the Dodo)

Aimee Mann

SuperEgo Records

ONCE in a great while, bad things happen to good people that, in the long run, turn out to be for the best. The pink slip Aimee Mann got from Universal Records last year was like a lottery ticket.

Mann got the boot after Universal swallowed her record label, Geffen. The megalabel rejected her new album, Bachelor No. 2, saying it didn't hear a hit single. Frustrated, Mann bought the album back and, releasing it on her own, became a hero of the indie music distribution movement.

The Mann buzz started earlier this year when she previewed four songs from Bachelor No. 2 alongside other originals on the soundtrack to Paul Thomas Anderson's Magnolia. Now, the full Bachelor No. 2 validates that promise.

The little album with no radio-friendly buzz cuts is intricately composed, perfectly executed think-tank pop that will be on many year-end Top 10 lists. With its release, Mann sticks it to the suits at Universal but good.

To a scaling carnival organ, Mann explains sweetly on Nothing Is Good Enough, "It doesn't really help that you can never say what you're looking for, but you'll know it when you hear it." The line is both constructive criticism and a reassuring pat on the back to anyone ever wronged by their boss. The rest of Bachelor No. 2 demonstrates why a beautifully prepared album is richer then a hit single.

Red Vines has a sweet plywood-clapping beat under Mann's restrained melancholy contralto. It reminds one of Carole King's bluest moments, just as It Takes All Kinds has an underlying disgust much like Carly Simon's You're So Vain.

The Fall of the World's Own Optimist is the toe-tapping relationship song No Doubt's Gwen Stefani is dying to write. And Deathly (also on the Magnolia soundtrack) is quite simply one of the most beautiful hymns about love lost ever written. It gives goose bumps.

Bachelor No. 2 does not have one hit single, and that's its beauty. Universal should've clued in that it wasn't Mann who was misguided. It was itself, radio and all other elements (media included) who keep a gem like this off the airwaves. Grade: A

GRAPHIC: Photo: Aimee Mann's songs for "Bachelor No. 2" won't be played often on commercial radio, but the overriding charm of the entire album makes it irresistible.