Copyright 2000 Gannett Company, Inc.  


May 2, 2000, Tuesday, FINAL EDITION


LENGTH: 901 words

HEADLINE: Music Reviews


Pop/rock: Aimee Mann, Bachelor No. 2( * * * 1/2) Now that the Magnolia soundtrack
has at last brought Aimee Mann a measure of public acclaim, this
album -- previously sold at Mann's Web site and at gigs and sharing
with the soundtrack three songs -- is hitting stores in search
of a broader audience. Her fans know not to expect a funfest.
This is Mann's world, and it would be nothing without a doomed
relationship to dissect or a record-biz weasel to rip. (Some songs,
thanks to the lyrics' artful ambiguity, work as both.) In song
after song, love is a battlefield (the only thing Mann has in
common with Pat Benatar), and the carnage litters a landscape
shrouded in perpetual gloom. But the bleakness is swathed in sumptuous
melodies and deft, spare arrangements, enabling listeners either
to wallow in the melancholy or ignore it in favor of enjoying
the music's sheer gorgeousness. Because Mann sings dispassionately
and skewers her targets calmly, without the edge-of-a-breakdown
quavers and listen-to-me-I'm-emoting-here histrionics of the new-waif
generation of songstresses, she tends to be overlooked. But no
one in pop makes better records. -- Ken Barnes

GRAPHIC: Aimee Mann, above, makes beautiful music on Bachelor No. 2.