Copyright 1996 The Times Mirror Company

Los Angeles Times

February 4, 1996, Sunday, Home Edition

SECTION: Calendar; Page 81; Calendar Desk

LENGTH: 227 words



BYLINE: By Elysa Gardner


Even more than punk or heavy metal, smart, sophisticated pop traditionally has been seen as a man's game. Prominent among the women artists who have been struggling to crack through this glass ceiling is Aimee Mann, whose history of being pushed around and shafted by record companies dates to her days with the Boston-based rock band 'Til Tuesday.

The 13 tracks on Mann's second solo album -- including "That's Just What You Are," already a minor hit thanks to its inclusion on last year's "Melrose Place" soundtrack -- are for the most part as winningly crafted as those on Mann's excellent 1993 effort "Whatever." The new songs also are more stylistically diverse, ranging from the grungy hip-hop of "Long Shot" to the radiant balladry of "Amateur" (co-written with Mann's longtime collaborator Jon Brion) to the lush, Beatle-esque psychedelia of "It's Not Safe."

Critics' faves ranging from Juliana Hatfield to ex-Suede guitarist Bernard Butler make guest appearances, but the songs themselves are the stars. This is pop music for the thinking man -- or woman. Elysa Gardner * New albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good) and four stars (excellent). Hear Aimee Mann * To hear samples from "I'm With Stupid," call TimesLine at 808-8463 and press *5720. In 805 area code, call (818) 808-8463.