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Over the course of her eight-album solo career, Aimee Mann has established herself as the master of the cerebral rock ballad. With her strong, unique, deadpan vocals, she spins bitingly melodic lyrics that delve into the darker corners of human interaction and intention. Since her acclaimed solo discs Whatever and I'm with Stupid in the '90s, Mann has always been at the forefront of contemporary songwriting. The close of the millennium brought her greatest success, with the simultaneous releases of Bachelor No. 2 and the soundtrack to the film Magnolia, which garnered nominations for an Oscar, a Golden Globe, and three Grammys.
Charmer, Mann's first release in four years, is certainly no exception. If anything, the album's consistent narrative is even more suspicious of basic motivations, and quicker to point out disingenuousness and superficiality. It's a fairly brutal exposé of the personality types we've all likely encountered: the smooth, slick, captivating, often larger-than-life personas who grab our attention, our admiration, and sometimes shortly thereafter, our ire. In short, it's a study of the more sinister side of charm.