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Album: Aimee Mann, @%&*! Smilers (Super Ego)

At her very best, Aimee Mann brings to the art of pop songwriting a sort of misanthropic rapture. She really doesn't trust people much, and so we need the rapture part to make her world-view bearable.

Click here to listen to and download this album

The first thing you look for on her records is melody, for in melody her rapture breeds. And there's plenty here: Mann's melodies wear their smiles turned down at the corners. There are a lot of keyboards too, to go with her acoustic guitar. It's a close, considered, not hugely rocking sound, as if a demo of itself. Not out of her top drawer, but then her drawers stack higher than most.

Pick of the Album: 'Phoenix': 'you love me like a dollar bill...'