Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Lance LaSalle, Feb 21, 2021.
4/5 for me.
Easily my favourite. 5/5. Balances all the key Aimee elements. The Aimee Apotheosis
I’m a huge fan of both Bachelor No 2 & the Magnolia Soundtrack. Ghost World is probably the only song I’ve never been fond of. These albums end what I consider to be the first phase of Aimee’s solo career. After this, the production definitely gets darker, and the song themes do too. I’m a fan of it all, but it seems like a lot of listeners miss the “poppier” sound from here on.
Also, Bachelor No 2 was probably the first album I ordered online, since I don’t think it was initially in stores when it was released. I was a college freshman with no money, and remember thinking how risky it was to give credit card info on the internet! I still remember picking up the package in my mailbox in the dorm and having high hopes for this album. I was blown away by how amazing it was.
I regard "I'm With Stupid" and "Bachelor No. 2" as a pair. They both have a similar recorded sound to me and both have several of her best songs, and both are satisfying album experiences. I feel like I could throw all their titles in a hat and sequence two good different albums using songs from both. B#2 leans slightly toward the mopey direction that she has continued to follow.
Having gone through the album in this manner i feel the European version a little stronger (I have copies of both) and the majority of the more interesting songs are the ones that crossover with Magnolia. Judging the US version i'd give it 4.3/5. I always thought i liked this album more than that.
Bachelor No. 2 is my favorite of the solo albums, but it also marks the last time (with one exception) that I bought a new Aimee Mann album. It's a fine album of mid-tempo songs but there are only so many of those that I need in my life.
I find Bachelor No 2 to be something of an anomaly in the Aimee Mann canon. It doesn’t really feel like an album, so much as a loose collection of songs gathered together at a particular moment in time. I love at least half the songs (others I’m less keen on, although I do find something to enjoy in them all) but it doesn’t hang together in any meaningful way for me. That there are 4 versions (if you count both the recent re-issue and the original version with the truncated track listing), along with the concurrent Magnolia soundtrack, just makes it hard for me to get a handle on somehow.
I was disappointed, when the re-issue track listing was announced recently, to discover that the additional tracks were just the remaining Magnolia songs, partly because I’d hoped there may be some amazing outtakes, but mainly because those Magnolia songs just don’t belong. One, Momentum, Build That Wall and Wise Up all predate Bachelor No 2 and come from completely different contexts. I also wonder if either Deathly or Driving Sideways were really intended for this album. If Magnolia hadn’t existed, I wonder what the track listing for her follow-up to I’m With Stupid would have been. Who can say, of course, but this is the one album of hers that just doesn’t hold together at all in my eyes, and no amount of tinkering with the track listing has ever improved that.
I’ve also spoken about how I find a lot of the album plodding and thinly produced, and that’s true, but I also really do think there are great songs on here, and some others that would have been improved no end with proper brass or string arrangements. I understand that budget was probably an issue (witness the very clip-art driven packaging, for example). But, on the other hand, she was still signed to a major label when she recorded the album – it wasn’t actually produced to be self-released. That came later. So who knows. I have to assume that it sounds the way she wanted it to sound, and the fact plenty of people rate it so highly shows that everyone hears things differently and taste is entirely subjective.
Certainly, this album marks a turning point. She is now free of label hassles, and also finally entering a romantic relationship that is stable and survives to this day. This means we’re going to get more songs that feel a little detached, and less full of personal disappointment. She starts to write more character studies and observational songs, rather than pouring her heart out. Inevitably this leads to records that can feel a little less moving at times, but I’m nevertheless glad she is moving to a happier place. Not that you’d know it by most of what she goes on to write about however, not least the next album… But more on that anon. I’d give this album 4, but at times that feels a little generous.
5/5 LOVE this song. I must have played it a thousand times and more...
a 10/10! well a 5/5 keeping up with the proper flow.
I can do chatty!
I love Bachelor #2 (the LP); between playlists and CDRs and cassettes and the scattershot way we’d listen to music back then, in cars, driving to soccer practice, the store, always with the kids: many of these songs are formative, DNA type songs for our family.
And then listening to them in quieter, alone moments reveals more adult themes which adds a depth to these recordings for me.
It’s a 5/5 album for me. A heavy rotation collection of songs in our family, similar to Jayhawks’ Sound of Lies, Wilco’s Being There, and bands like Fountains of Wayne, Fastball and Teenage Fanclub.
Amazing how a family can bond over music that is mutually loved. Never happened with my folks, but I knew it was possible with my own kids. I feel very lucky that way.
Bachelor No 2
A strong collection of well written, mostly sophisticated songwriting with production that’s not dated to any specific time period. But, I find there to be less variety from song to song than her previous two solo albums, which makes many of the songs stand out less to the point where I need to think a moment, sing it in my head and place the chorus, then I get the rest. Whereas, on the vast major of her earlier songs, they’re more unique in my head. This, to me, is also the start of her more straight/less emotional delivery, as well as less personal lyrics. So things are more at arms length than before.
In a way, the combination of the above factors make me take the album for granted in a way I normally wouldn’t for an album that has so many good individual songs. And the whole isn’t really greater than the sum of its parts in this case.
In the end, it’s definitely in the top half of her albums, on the borderline of the top 1/3, but as others have suggested, removing a few and adding a couple would have made an overall stronger album. I still love it though.
Aimee was already very special in my life’s soundtrack but this album really crushed it in how I related to her lyrics and how I loved the production. Being disabled, this was one of a handful of shows I got to see.. and even though I couldn’t truly focus and escape enough to fully enjoy the experience, Aimee was wonderful and wowed the audience around me.
it’s a beautiful 5/5
I'm going to add my review and do a tally later today for Bachelor No. 2 -- I have spent a lot of time on other threads today!
Today's song is "Build That Wall", written by Aimee Mann and Jon Brion. Produced by Jon Brion; recorded by Mark McKenna, Mike Denneen and Brian Scheuble. Mixed by Bob Clearmountain.
This was released on the Magnolia soundtrack; it was recently included on the 2020 double vinyl reissue of Bachelor No. 2.
Aimee Mann: vocals, bass
Jon Brion: guitars, organ, glockenspiel, celeste, percussion and Casio Orchestra, background vocals
Keigh Brion: piccolo
Randy Brion: euphonium
Mike Breaux: oboe
Scott Mitchell: drums
Buddy Judge: background vocals
Build that Wall
To me, this sounds like an extension of Whatever. It's a decent song made stronger by the colorful arrangement and the way Aimee plays with the vocal. This is excellent songcraft not beholden to 1990-whatever, nor to an attempt at Bacharach formalism. More like this, please.
'Build that Wall'
Bachelor No. 2
It's a bit difficult for me to write about BAchelor No. 2 because it's so chock full of good songs and even masterpieces, by anyone's standards and YET....and yet...I have issue with it. My issues are:
It's too long. It just goes on and on and on. And even though every song is at least good and most of them are good-to-spectactular, as an album at some point it becomes a chore to get through.
There's a certain saminess to a lot of it: I don't mean the songs sound the same but there' s saminess of approach through several of them -- this might be a strength except, well, see point 1.
The songs (with a couple of notable exceptions) all seem to be rather long -- again, nothing wrong with that, but, well, see points 1 and 2.
The sound: it's well mixed and mellow sounding, beautifully equalized but it's also a bit brickwalled. Again a forgiveable sin, because so is everything else but then...well, see, points 1, 2, and 3.
Ultimately I feel this is more of a piece than I'm With Stupid, but I can't rate it quite as high as "Whatever."
Some other notes: I suppose the European version of Bachelor No. 2 is better than the American version; but the best is probably the double vinyl re-release from last year, though I think "One" sticks out like a sore thumb.
I've already mentioned that I split Magnolia and Bachelor No. 2 into two enitrely separate playlists. I think it works much better for me and makes it less of a chore -- I'm not losing any songs (except the instrumental) this way and I appreciate them more this way.
Ultiamtely, I'll give this one a 4.4/5. It's just too good to rate any lower; but my quibbles with it are certainly real.
Our votes for Bachelor No. 2
I forgot to add Aimee's quote from the RSD release about "Build That Wall"
Build That Wall fascinates me. The 1990 dates indicates it predates Whatever, although I'm sure the recording of that album was well underway by 1990. It's such a beautiful song - the equal to the tracks on Whatever, and perhaps better than a handful of them. I'm so glad we eventually got to hear it.
This track shows Jon Brion off at his best. Sometimes (especially when the song isn't so strong) his production choices can be a little much, but here the production and arrangement match the words and music to perfection. It's like a cool summer breeze on a hot day. I adore woodwind anyway, and I'm always a sucker for non-rock instruments (for want of a better description) being used on pop/rock songs. Having written a bit about how I find some of the arrangements on Batchelor No 2 a little underdeveloped, this track shows exactly what I mean when I say an arrangement can really enhance a song. I'm imagining Just Like Anyone or It Takes All Kinds arranged more like this - I'd have loved that!
I really don't think it needs Save Me or Wise Up. But I do prefer the UK/Europe release, which includes Save Me.
As others have said, it is a long album. But I never feel the need to skip. It's a masterpiece, and overall, Aimee Mann wise, I give it a 5 out of 5.
Just for the sake of reassessment, I would group the songs according to ranking, something like this
Wonderful, top flight Aimee Mann songs, as close to genius as pop music got in that decade:
"How Am I Different"
"Nothing Is Good Enough"
"Calling It Quits"
Great, but not quite in the top rank:
"You Do" (borderline, maybe should be in top category)
"The Fall of the World's Own Optimist"
Very good ''minor' songs:
"It Takes All Kinds"
Good but nothing special:
"Just Like Anyone"
Build That Wall 4.6/5
Albums so far -- with links to the beginning of their respective discussions:
Bark Along with the Young Snakes 2.15
Voices Carry 3.65
Welcome Home 4.175
Everything's Different Now 4.375
I'm With Stupid 4.5214
Bachelor No. 2 4.6417
Bachelor No. 2
I'm With Stupid
Everything's Different Now
Bark Along with the Young Snakes EP
Build That Wall
Though I don’t understand the shifting perspective of the lyrics throughout the song, I love everything about it. It kind of a light floating song that sounds happier than the subject matter, and I appreciate the instrumental and background vocal flourishes throughout.
I had commented that I thought several of the Bachelor No 2 songs had a sameness to them, but this one for me is quite unique and better for it.
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