Aimee Mann has been known to indulge her dark side, in everything from her classic work on the Magnolia soundtrack to a holiday record that really should have been titled A Very Dour Christmas. But she fully leans into the bleakness on her provocatively titled new album, Mental Illness. Mann's ninth full-length solo record — which features contributions from natural allies such as Jonathan Coulton, Ted Leo, Jay Bellerose and John Roderick — Mental Illness can be punishingly sad, but also breathtakingly pretty.
To those ends, Mann just released a video for a gorgeous single from Mental Illness called "Patient Zero" — though the artist herself only makes a split-second cameo, alongside comedian Tim Heidecker, actor Rich Sommer and Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner. The dramatic heavy lifting is left to the formidable pairing of actors James Urbaniak and Bradley Whitford, in a story loosely based on Ronald Harwood's 1980 play The Dresser.
"I believe 'Patient Zero' is a song about Hollywood disappointment," the video's director, Daniel Ralson, writes via email. "I wanted to make a video about the same thing, on a smaller scale. James Urbaniak plays the dresser for a fictitious (but very serious) play called The Hermit. Bradley Whitford plays the actor at the heart of the performance. The two men become friends; the dresser is given a gift; their friendship ends. It's about being able to let go of the things we want but can't have."
Aimee Mann's new album, Mental Illness, comes out March 31 via SuperEgo.