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  • @#%&*! Smilers (Special Edition)
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@#%&*! Smilers (Special Edition)

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Audio CD, June 3, 2008
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Editorial Reviews

Despite that unwieldy, rather craven title, @#%&! Smilers has already been acclaimed by some critics as the best record in Aimee Mann’s long career. Few fans will be disappointed. The opening "Freeway" may be built around a fairly slight play on words ("you got a lot of money but you can’t afford the freeway" goes the chorus) but the nagging melody and expansive synth-laden arrangement, reminiscent of her East Coast counterparts and fellow suburban critics Fountains of Wayne, is nigh on irresistible. "Stranger Into Starman" is a mere snippet, and all the better for its brevity, while "Looking For Nothing" is a perfect example of the southern Californian blankness Mann has captured for years now. The lush, orchestrated country-rock of "Phoenix" rhymes the title with "Kleenex" and truly captures the mood of someone leaving for good. Sean Hayes sounds uncannily like a boozy Antony Hegarty on the deceptively jolly closer "Ballantines," named for a whisky, while author Dave Eggers picks up a credit for his rather good "whistling" on the gloomy, undeniably pretty "Little Tornado." The painfully detailed "Thirty One Today," a distant memory for Mann, is another successful attempt to voice dissatisfaction. Only the chirpy horns on the admonishing "Borrowing Time" actually lighten the mood. Smilers is an excellent record, cleverly thought out throughout. But the smiles here are rueful at best -- Steve Jelbert

1. Freeway
2. Stranger Into Starman
3. Looking For Nothing
4. Phoenix
5. Borrowing Time
6. It's Over
7. Thirty One Today
8. Great Beyond
9. Medicine Wheel
10. Columbus Ave.
11. Little Tornado
12. True Believer
13. Ballantines

Product Details

  • Audio CD (June 3, 2008)
  • Original Release Date: 2008
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Superego Records
  • ASIN: B00171MNL0
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (74 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #246,792 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Amazon's Aimee Mann Store


Image of album by Aimee Mann


Image of Aimee Mann




Interested in the full range of human faults, foibles, dysfunction, and self-delusion? You could spend your evening re-reading the DSM-IV Manual. Or you could opt to spend some time with an even more entertaining catalog of idiosyncracies: Charmer, the latest album from Aimee Mann, as fine a chronicler of the human comedy as popular music has produced. Names have been obscured to protect the ... Read more in Amazon's Aimee Mann Store

Visit Amazon's Aimee Mann Store
for 33 albums, 13 photos, videos, discussions, and more.

Customer Reviews

She is a consistently excellent songwriter and performer.
E. Rohman
You know, I can't even pick favorites because I have something good to say about almost every song.
Meg Wallace
It will be weeks before I take this album out of my CD player.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

80 of 92 people found the following review helpful By TheTange on June 3, 2008
Format: Audio CD
Couldn't disagree more with the couple of folks who say this is "more of the same" from Aimee Mann, and who have given the album 3 stars (and sounds like, from their reviews, they're just bitter over a few extra tracks used to promote the album on I-Tunes).

"More of the same" (Whatever, IWS, Bachelor #2, Lost In Space, The Forgotten Arm) would be enviable by any other singer/songwriter. Mann's been nominated for Grammy's, Golden Globe, Academy Award (Mr. Oscar), and has literally been on most year end top ten album lists with each of the releases already mentioned. I'll take more of the same from Mann any day of the week.

Smilers is indeed "more of the same" in terms of quality songwriting. There's not a throwaway track on Smilers (which consists of 13 tracks). The folks moaning about Itunes having 2 extra live tracks and 1 bonus studio track? If the rest of the album was so disappointing, then it's unusual that one would clamor for live versions of 2 songs they already have, and 1 "more of the same" studio track. Aimee's self-described bitter album was I'm With Stupid......maybe these fans are stuck in that period of her work <grin>.

Smilers opens with Freeway, a song that has a sound not unlike something the Cars (the band) would have written in the 70s. I can't recall another Aimee Mann solo album with anything that sounds remotely like the Cars - but there's a coupla tracks on Smilers, due to the use of moog synths as a replacement for the electric guitar (another first on an Aimee release, even counting til tuesday).

Smilers also marks the first time I can recall that Aimee has used a brass section, which she uses on a number of the songs here to great effect.
Read more ›
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Philip J. Herman on December 7, 2008
Format: Audio CD
I cautiously took Aimee Mann's cd Bachelor No. 2 from my local library because I want to acquaint myself with current music. Usually I listen to bits and pieces and return the cd's with a shudder. Bachelor No. 2 was so infectious that I bought it; then I bought Smilers and Aimee mann's Christmas album. Thinking that I was being a little crazy, I went on Amazon and listened to samples of all her recordings. There are no bad songs. I haven't purchased music in twenty years. And making matters worse I am ( or was ) a Frank Zappa and Tom Waits fan. Aimee Mann's music is GOOD in it's own way. It's creative, catchy, infectious, moody, original... and she has her own SOUND. I detect whiffs of Carole King ( Tapestry, I am that old ), Fountains of Wayne, and Emmit Rhodes ( which is why some of her songs sound like the Beatles ). But the conglomeration of influences is distilled through a unique vessel... Aimee Mann. I hum her songs while I'm living my life.
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19 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Sean H. Campbell on June 5, 2008
Format: Audio CD
I admit: I've loved every last thing the wonderful and peerless Aimee Mann has done since 'Til Tuesday. There's little doubt in my mind that she's a melodic and lyric genius, even if we bandy about the term "genius" a little too loosely. It all seems to come so easy to her, and there's an intoxicating brilliance about her every move. Seeing her live is heavenly.

All that having been said, her new album is yet another treasure. You cannot but be wowed by the understated beauty of, let's say, "31 Today" or the stuck-in-your-head-and-you-don't-care quality of "Freeway." Buy without hesitation. The whole thing is terrific.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Jef Fazekas on August 5, 2008
Format: Audio CD
You can always count on Aimee Mann to do something new and exciting on each new release, be it the alternating narrative on 2005's brilliant concept album THE FORGOTTEN ARM, or the "no electric guitar" policy on the new @#%&*! SMILERS. Lush and full, even without the aforementioned electric axes, @#%&*! SMILERS is, in many ways, classic Mann. However, that may not be enough....but more on that later! The album opens on an upbeat note with the effervescent "Freeway." Quirky percussion, reptiian keyboard runs that weave in and out and a lead vocal that both seduces and soars all combine to make a slice of pop perfection. Add some wonderful lyrics ("The road to Orange County/Leaves an awful lot of leeway/Where everyone's a doctor/Or a specialist in retail") and you have a real winner. Initially, I was less than thrilled with "Stranger Into Starman" just didn't feel...finished. However, after repeated plays, I've come to appreciate the song. With it's ominous, low-key piano arrangement and smoky lead vocal, there's an after-hours, torchy vibe to the track that's mesmerizing, growing on you with each listen. One of the disc's high points, "Looking For Nothing" is absolutely stunning. Singing in around three different registers throughout the song, Mann's lead vocal is a thing of natural beauty, while the instrumentation is killer (Special mention need be made of Jamie Edwards' glorious piano riffs). Equal parts melancholy and soothing, this ranks among Mann's all-time Top Ten best songs. Things continue strongly with the country-flavored "Phoenix." This could've been just another break-up song, but Mann elevates it to a whole other level. Opening with the clever lines "Got out of Phoenix/Just in time/A box of Kleenex/For the ride", things just keep getting better and better.Read more ›
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Most Recent Customer Reviews


Topic From this Discussion
What is "Freeway" About?
aimee was on "live at the world cafe" last friday, and she said that it is about addicts that never get help because they can afford it, i.e. they never get into financial trouble because they have enough money to maintain or enlarge their habit, and that the chorus was kind of a play...
Sep 2, 2008 by N. S. Hinman |  See all 4 posts
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