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Aimee Mann’s Mental Illness, her first album in five years, will be released on March 31 via her own SuperEgo Records. The record follows 2012’s Charmer, which Rolling Stone proclaimed “shows off the more pop-oriented side to her usual acoustic tendencies.” With this follow-up, she returns to a more musically soft-spoken but still lyrically barbed approach, as heard in the album’s lead single, “Goose Snow Cone”.
Mental Illness shows off Mann’s rich, incisive and wry melancholia in an almost all-acoustic format, with a “finger-picky” style inspired by some of her favorite ‘60s and ‘70s folk-rock records, augmented by haunting strings arranged by her longtime producer, Paul Bryan. Additional players include: Jonathan Coulton on acoustic guitar and backing vocals, Jay Bellerose on drums, Jamie Edwards on piano, John Roderick as a co-writer and Ted Leo (who recently joined her in a joint side project, The Both) as a background singer.
On this eleven-track album, the Oscar-nominated, Grammy-winning singer remains a student of human behavior, drawing not just on her own experiences to form the characters in the songs but tales told by friends. “I assume the brief on me is that people think that I write these really depressing songs,” Mann says. “I don’t know—people may have a different viewpoint—but that’s my own interpretation of the cliche about me. So if they thought that my songs were very down-tempo, very depressing, very sad, and very acoustic, I thought I’d just give myself permission to write the saddest, slowest, most acoustic, if-they’re-all-waltzes-so-be-it record I could…I mean, calling it Mental Illness makes me laugh, because it is true, but it’s so blunt that it’s funny.”