Aimee Mann

It is rare for an artist to successfully shed the skin of an earlier incarnation and reinvent themselves. Former 'Til Tuesday vocalist Aimee Mann has done just that, and each successive album demonstrates her incredible songcrafting that was obscured by her hairdo way back when. In comparison to her previous releases, @#%&*! Smilers sounds like the next logical chapter in an ongoing series of introspective, melodic song cycles. Each tune serves as a concisely constructed snapshot into her heart and soul, and the sum is a moving and emotional magnum opus. It's not perfect, but close. Rarely moving out of a steady, pervasive rhythm, the pacing of the album tends to get a bit redundant after a while. Mann has an obvious song structure formula, and what works so well in some cases can easily become overdone. But then, how much of a good thing is too much? 4 stars.

Aimee Mann plays Variety Playhouse Fri., Sept. 5. 8:30 p.m. $27.50.