At the moment, I’m listening to a gorgeous pop dirge for wasted teenage summers, ‘Ghostworld’ by Aimee Mann. This reminded me of Nick Hornby’s (author of such entertaining British books as Fever Pitch and High Fidelity) enjoyable little book on 31 of his favourite pop songs, inventively titled 31 Songs. Hornby, also the pop music columnist for The New Yorker, writes wonderfully about pop music. As anybody who read High Fidelity knows, he shamelessly loves the stuff.
31 Songs had a chapter on “Ghostworld”. Actually, I think it just cited that song in the context of discussing a great song about being in a band, “I’ve Had It.” That song features one of the finer lyrics written in the last decade:
Like most amazing things
It’s easy to miss and easy to mistake
Regardless, I tracked down Hornby’s review of “Bachelor #2”, Mann’s second solo album. It’s a great read:
What makes listening to “Bachelor No. 2” such a treat is Mann’s sinuous, Burt Bacharach-like melodies and her verbal facility. “Ghost World” has the kind of lyrics that people don’t write very often: simple, direct, sweet, resonant – in other words, proper lyrics, instead of tenth-rate poetry. “Finals blew, I barely knew my graduation speech / With college out of reach / If I don’t find a job it’s down to Dad and Myrtle Beach,” runs the first verse; I’ve read entire first novels that cover similar territory less effectively. (The song, an achingly pretty lament for a nothing-happening teenage summer, also offers a respite from all the typical Mann finger-pointing.) “Red Vines,” meanwhile, is this year’s great lost radio hit. It has everything: a gorgeous, understated guitar intro, a swooping and memorable chorus, a preposterously cute piano outro.
If you don’t have this album, go out and buy it. You won’t be disappointed.