Mental Illness” is a striking entry in Mann’s catalog not just for the instruments it lacks, but for the addition of a string quartet as beautifully and hauntingly realized as any you’ve ever heard on a contemporary record, thanks to bassist/producer Paul Bryan’s unexpected deftness with subtle orchestration. L.A. fans might have been wondering how the new material sounded on the road without strings attached. They’re still wondering, since one of the benefits of a hometown show is coaxing the string quartet to drive downtown after all. Besides having them play on four new songs, Bryan also came up with L.A.-exclusive string arrangements for “Save Me” and “Deathly,” allowing both “Magnolia” perennials to blossom anew. -Variety
For 44 minutes, Mann slips into the skin of someone walking an emotional tightrope, and it’s an act she pulls of with grace and conviction.
-Consequence Of Sound
Four Stars -Mojo
Heartbreak and misanthropy run rampant over the course of the album's 38 minutes, but the remarkable thing about this self-consciously sorrowful album is that Mental Illness doesn't feel depressing. Chalk it up to the lush production from Paul Bryan and wry delivery from Mann, a combination that softens whatever sadness lies at the record's core. In many ways, Mental Illness feels like a deliberate retort to the bright colors of its predecessor, 2012's Charmer. -All Music
This is her quintessential statement, a wake-up call delivered as a lullaby. -Pitchfork
Ultimately, Mental Illness could be called Mann’s masterpiece, an emotional touchstone in a career that’s had no shortage of purely mesmerizing moments. It’s as good as it gets, thanks to her ability to blend subtlety and suggestion in equal measure, no small accomplishment by any definition. In Mann’s hands, desire and determination find clear expression, leaving an indelible imprint in their wake. This Mental Illness breeds a clarity that‘s unmistakably extraordinary. -Glide