Copyright 1993 Southam Inc.
The Gazette (Montreal)

June 5, 1993, Saturday, FINAL EDITION


LENGTH: 975 words

HEADLINE: Aimee Mann's songs have the jangling joy of great guitar pop






INFO-LINE: 841-8600, code 8001

Assuming anybody out there still believes in the power of pop to turn melody, inspiration and craft into a little transcendence, Aimee Mann would like a word with you.

The word is Whatever, and in a year when pop seems as welcome as a tax audit, it may mean everything.

But first, a story about survival, because by Orwellian record company logic, Aimee Mann should be a non-person by now.

She signed on at the Ministry of Rock in '85, when a band named Til Tuesday and a hit called Voices Carry made Mann a woman with a future.

She smoked the Victory cigarettes and drank the Victory gin of sudden success. Then, logically, the Big Brothers entrusted with Aimee Mann's latent talent decided they had a new Blondie/whatever.

What followed was the conflict between Mann's pop instincts and the biz people who thought they knew better. She battled with label, management and the rest of the suits and, despite a great little '88 album called Everything's Different Now, was cast aside.

The story is important because it makes this achievement all the more remarkable. Mann wrote and recorded this when she had no manager and no record deal and must have been haunted by plenty of self-doubt. Yet, though her songs sift through the ashes of relationships, there is an emotional courage here that refutes bitterness.

And the songs burst with the jangling joy of great guitar pop music. Roger McGuinn and Jim Keltner crop up in some songs, and Mann probably heard a few Beatles songs growing up. She once went out with Jules Shear. You should have the channel tuned in by now.

The friends help, but it's Mann's show. The crunchy lead track I Should've Known and the Byrdsy Could've Been Anyone are brighter than anything on radio right now. And as a writer, Mann turns her own fine lines.

4th of July runs "Oh baby, I wonder if - when you are older/Someday you'll wake up/and say 'My God, I should have told her/what would it take/But here I am and the world's gotten colder."

Granted, the next line about "the river down which I sold her" forces the issue a bit, but Mann uses everyday words to tell stories in the language of regret.

Deft production touches in every song, employing everything from strings to mellotron, empower the melodies, making them crisper. So in 1993, Aimee Mann is her own person, but she's also this year's Matthew Sweet.