Top positive review
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Overlooked indie release by the reclusive Aimee Mann.
on August 3, 1999
Whatever conjures up the best elements of surf-pop, new wave, and folk rock (Roger McGuinn has a benevolent eye cast over this recording). Out on her own with a truly great batch of confessional but self-assured songs, Aimee Mann crafted a classic right out the bag with her first solo record.
I'm with Stupid was more openly defiant and rougher, but way back in 1993 Whatever already found Mann at the peak of her emotional and musical strength. Check out the layers of distorted guitars on "I Should've Known" coupled with an irresistible melody; the Byrds-isms on "Fifty-Years after the Fair" with its wonderful vocal harmonies and McGuinn's 12-string guitar resounding; the gang voices on "Say Anything" and the poignant "4th of July". Mann even tackles a May-September romance on "Mr. Harris" and sounds as dark as Days of Open Hand-era Suzanne Vega on "Jacob Marley's Chain".
Meticulously produced (by Jon Brion), written and performed, Whatever is a pop powerhouse.