Copyright 1993 The Washington Post
The Washington Post

July 30, 1993, Friday, Final Edition


LENGTH: 509 words

HEADLINE: Mann Works Out the Kinks

SERIES: Occasional

BYLINE: Joe Brown

   IT'S BEEN FOUR long years since Aimee Mann's last album, the cruelly underrated and overlooked "Everything's Different Now," which documented the breakup of a romance in a suite of perfect pop meditations. Mann recently reemerged with a new solo album called "Whatever," and everything's really different now.

The singer/songwriter has retired the band name 'til Tuesday, for starters. "It just seemed ridiculous to hang on to it, because it was just me and [percussionist] Michael Hausman on the last album," Mann says from her home in Boston. "And I was pretty much doing this record with [producer] Jon Brion, who is sort of a one-man band."

Mann also got out of her contract with Epic Records (though not without some difficulty), recorded "Whatever" and hooked up with the smaller Imago Records, which has made her a priority, discarded her New Wave bombshell image ("I was not necessarily cut out to be a big fabulous rock star, and that's how people saw the 'til Tuesday thing") and has remained "blessedly free" of romantic entanglements.

Now she's getting out with the Kinks, appearing as a support act for her musical heroes Thursday at Merriweather Post Pavilion.

"I was in London and I was invited to play on an all-music show called 'Later with Jools Holland,'" Mann says. "I knew Belly and Neneh Cherry were playing, but I got there and the Kinks were playing and I was like, 'Why didn't anybody tell me this?' Because I'm a huge Kinks fan. And then I got back home, and a week later, Ray [Davies] called my booking agent, who is his booking agent, and said, 'Let's get Aimee on the show.' I was really thrilled.

"The Kinks were one of the groups that Jon, my producer, and I listened to for 'this is what we want to do' inspiration before we made this record," Mann says. The Kinks tour was arranged so quickly, Mann had only four days to rehearse her four-piece band in acoustic approximations of the album's ornate late-Beatlesque arrangements.

As ever, Mann's songs on "Whatever" are diary-personal and poison-penned -- as intimate and emotional as therapy, albeit therapy set to some of the most inventive pop-rock imaginable.

"The songs are kind of relationshippy, but also kind of about career stuff," she says. "People always say, 'Oh what relationship is she talking about now?' You know, the People magazine approach to record listening. But they're never about just a single relationship.

"There's a lot of angry stuff. It was a very frustrating time, very disheartening to see what Epic was doing to me. If I hadn't asked to be dropped from the label, they probably would have dropped me. Anyway, I've got enough new songs for another album already, and 'wryness' is more the tone of the newer things."

So Mann's fortune seems to have finally turned.

"So far," she says, and laughs. "I don't want to make any predictions."

AIMEE MANN -- Appearing with the Kinks, Thursday at Merriweather Post Pavilion. Call 202/432-7328. To hear a Sound Bite from "Whatever," call 202/334-9000 and press 8102.