Aimee Mann's songs have always appealed to the more bookish kind of music fan - so it's no surprise she's written a concept album that's supposed to be 'a novella in musical form'. The Forgotten Arm tells the gloomy tale of a boxer who returns from Vietnam and travels across America with his girlfriend, both of them ending up addicted to various substances along the way. Oddly enough, the storyline is the album's only real weakness - the characters never really come alive and the lyrics just aren't detailed enough to give it the necessary period feel. Best just to take the songs on their own merits which is fine, as this is probably Mann's strongest body of work since the Magnolia soundtrack. And frankly, it's hard to think of many other songwriters who can dissect the messy workings of a failed relationship with such coolness, insight and compassion. A technical knockout.