LENGTH: 997 words
HEADLINE: Pop albums
BYLINE: Martin Aston, Mike Pattenden, Rob Chapman, Sylvie Simmons, Ed Potton, Nigel
AIMEE MANN. Bachelor No 2. (V2) 1010. Pounds 9.99 (0870 160 8080) ****
WHEN MANN proffered this album to her previous record company they laughed in her face and told her to think again: "Where are the hits?" they cried. Undaunted, the former lead singer of 'Til Tuesday bought back Bachelor No 2 from Interscope and released it on her own label.
In the interim Paul Thomas Anderson, the director of Boogie Nights, picked up the track Save Me from Bachelor No. 2 and featured it in his 1999 film Magnolia. The song accompanied the film's moving finale and, as a result, Mann was nominated for an Oscar.
Finally, Bachelor No 2 gets a proper release in the UK. It is a marvellous record, easily as good as her debut solo album Whatever and much better than her second, somewhat bitter, effort I'm With Stupid.
Her voice is an important element -a pungent mix of Carly Simon's confidence and Lori Carson's vulnerability -and is the perfect instrument for these songs of hope and despair.
And, what songs they are. Red Vines is a near-perfect blend of late-period Beatles and Alanis Morrissette, while Deathly showcases the ability of Mann's gorgeous voice to carry her simple, but beautiful, tunes and acerbic lyrics.
Lyrically, It Takes All Kinds takes the biscuit. A gentle, harmony-saturated country tune leads into: "As we were speaking of the Devil/You walked right in/Wearing hubris like a medal you revel in."
Mann's rarely seen vulnerable side is also highlighted on Save Me: "Come on save me/ From the ranks of the freaks/ Who suspect they could never love anyone."
Come on, it's time to save Mann from the freaks.