Copyright 1996 The Times Mirror Company
Los Angeles Times
February 24, 1996, Saturday, Home Edition
SECTION: Calendar; Part F; Page 2; Entertainment Desk
LENGTH: 261 words
HEADLINE: POP MUSIC REVIEW;
MANN'S STYLIZED CONCERT LEAVES NO ROOM FOR INTIMACY
BYLINE: By RICHARD CROMELIN
Whenever we meet pure-pop heroine Aimee Mann, be it
on her current album, "I'm With Stupid," or at her Roxy show on
Thursday, she's already been made wary and closed-off by the emotional wounds
that make up her unvarying subject matter.
That translates into a detachment and diffidence at the very core of her music. The feelings, sealed in, are merely reported. In great pop music, they're contacted, expressed and purged.
Mann's Roxy concert was pretty much true to that form: too stylized to permit real intimacy, but not dynamic enough to register on the level of such forebears as the Beatles, Kinks and Elvis Costello.
There were two great exceptions. In "Choice in the Matter," melodic flow transcended her moroseness while never denying it. And in "Par for the Course" (introduced as "the most depressing song I've ever written"), Mann's understated approach distilled the chill of deep loneliness expressed in the refrain "I don't even know you."
Playing acoustic guitar and backed by a four-man band that replaced her clever studio touches with a standard rock-club attack, Mann was amiable and straightforward. But while never less than listenable, she rarely did musical justice to her often caustic lyrics -- clockwork couplets with some real zest and sting.
Mann's song "Frankenstein" uses that classic's creature as an metaphor for artificiality in relationships. To adapt the image, her music is an ingenious pastiche of musical body parts. But, unlike the tragic doctor, she never finds the secret of giving it life. RICHARD CROMELIN