Copyright 1986 The New York Times Company
The New York Times

November 21, 1986, Friday, Late City Final Edition

SECTION: Section C; Page 31, Column 2; Weekend Desk

LENGTH: 256 words



   AIMEE MANN, the lead singer, chief songwriter and bassist of the Boston pop group 'Til Tuesday, combines a cool punkish look with a searching lyric sensibility that harks back to folk-oriented singer-songwriters of the 1970's. In the group's most interesting song, ''Coming Up Close,'' Ms. Mann describes a romantic epiphany after driving through the cornfields of Iowa with a friend and listening to a tape of Bob Dylan's music. Returning to her hotel room, the singer experiences a deep, exhilarating sense of purpose and spiritual connection.

Musically, ''Coming Up Close'' is typical of 'Til Tuesday's songs in the way it blends an 80's concision and toughness with echoes of a 60's romanticism. Its straightforward narrative melody is drawn out by the group in ringing folkish harmonies. At the same time, Ms. Mann's edgy vocal delivery and slightly strangulated diction are much closer in style to the sullen postpunk style of Chrissie Hynde than to older folk music models.

The interplay of many pop influences, along with the group's solidly melodic material helped to make its performance at the Ritz on Tuesday evening consistently engaging. Eschewing drum machines and elaborate electronics, the quartet offered polished pop-rock of a slightly melancholy hue in which each instrumental element was precisely balanced. Joey Pesce's spare, tasty keyboard licks, Michael Hausman's brisk drumming and Robert Holmes's clear slicing lead guitar all helped to give each song a clear profile and a crisp, well-defined texture.