Lost In Space

Aimee Mann

SuperEgo Records, 2002

REVIEW BY: Sean McCarthy

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 04/10/2003

As much as it pains me to say this, sometimes a little pressure from record labels can be a good thing. Honestly, Prince's Sign O' The Times, over which Prince fought with his old label, was a much better product than Crystal Ball, his intended opus. Record labels tell artists like Ween and Lou Reed to mix in some song structure and chorus to curb their tendency to be confrontationalist smartasses.

Before Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, the Aimee Mann story was the fairy tale of choice for music geeks who despised the ruthless era of big record companies. She was a tremendously talented songwriter who couldn't translate her talent into big record sales, so she was dropped. Then came Magnolia and Bachelor No. 2, which topped critics' lists in 1999 and 2000 and gave Mann decent record sales. All of this after she was dropped.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

However, Mann had something to prove when she recorded Bachelor No. 2. She needed a record deal. Therefore, to paraphrase A Tribe Called Quest, "The product had to be dope." The lyrics had to stand out, the music had to be arresting and it had to be an album that could hold up with repeat listens. Basically, record a really, really good album.

Mission accomplished.

But fast forward to 2002 and Aimee Mann is in a different position. She definitely doesn't have much to prove. Bachelor No. 2 scored enough response to ensure a fan base that would likely buy her latest album, Lost in Space within the first week of release. Unfortunately, Lost in Space sounds like an album recorded in the corporate environment that Mann fought so desperately to break herself free of. It sounds rushed; the lyrics sound half-finished and the music is limp.

I've tried to like Lost in Space. It can still find a home on my CD player at times. Some songs are able to match up with some of Mann's best, such as the title track and "Real Bad News." Despite some of the trite lyrics, Mann's vocals sound as good as ever. When she's on, no one can make depression sound so elegantly sweet and sophisticated. Some songs, like "Guys Like Me" reveal their charm only after a few listens. But compared to her past glories, this likely to be a "fans only" album.

Perhaps the best song to sum up Lost in Space is "Invisible Ink." The song opens up with Mann's weary voice stating "There comes a time when you swim or sink, so I jumped in the drink." The song goes downhill from there, mainly because it was such a strong opener. The chorus is a whiny "the plot is cliché, the jokes are stale." Within the song are a couple of keeper lines, but it definitely could have spent a bit more time in the oven (yes, I know it's a cliché, pointing out another cliché).

Mann will likely rebound. This album will be a small blemish in an otherwise stellar collection of works. And as I'm writing this, "Today's The Day" washes down like great wine, so it's not a total failure. It's just that, for an artist who is known for her perfectionist ways, Lost In Space feels that way.

Rating: C+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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© 2003 Sean McCarthy and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of SuperEgo Records, and is used for informational purposes only.