Til' Tuesday and Aimee Mann

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Aimee Mann: Whatever , 6/10
Aimee Mann: I'm With Stupid , 6.5/10
Aimee Mann: Bachelor No 2, 6/10
Aimee Mann: Lost in Space , 6.5/10
Aimee Mann: The Forgotten Arm (2005), 6/10
Aimee Mann: One More Drifter In The Snow (2006), 3/10
Aimee Mann: @#%&*! Smilers (2008), 5/10
Aimee Mann: Charmer (2012), 5/10
Aimee Mann: Mental Illness (2017), 5.5/10

(Translated from my old Italian text by/ Tradotto da Nicholas Green)

Aimee Mann's 'Til Tuesday were purveyors of a sensitive and introverted brand of pop, somewhere between the Bangles and the Pretenders. They followed up their classic Voices Carry with Love In A Vacuum - both from Voices Carry (1985, Epic), although these songs were written years earlier - and Coming Up Close and On Sunday (from the mediocre Welcome Home). The singer's sex appeal was by far their most effective weapon.

Everything's Different Now (Epic, 1988) is the best album of their career, a concept album that explores Mann's love affair with Jules Shear (Rip In Heaven, 'J' For Jules).

Mann, a little Hynde from Boston, found herself out of work, although she always wrote refined songs.

I Til' Tuesday di Aimee Mann furono titolari di un pop delicato e introverso, a meta` strada fra Bangles e Pretenders. Il loro classico e` Voices Carry a cui ha fatto seguito Love In A Vacuum (dall'album Voices Carry del 1985 per la Epic, ma scritta anni prima) e Coming Up Close e On Sunday (dal mediocre Welcome Home). Il sex appeal della cantante era di gran lunga la loro arma piu` efficace.

Everything's Different Now (Epic, 1988) e` l'album migliore della loro carriera, un concept che sorveglia la relazione amorosa di Mann con Jules Shear (Rip In Heaven, J For Jules).

Mann, piccola Hynde di Boston, fini` per rimanere disoccupata, benche' abbia sempre scritto canzoni eleganti.

It took chateuse Aimee Mann three years to find a contract for her first solo album, Whatever (Imago, 1993 - Geffen, 1995). Guitarist Jon Brion helped her out with most of the music and steered her style towards 1960s pop singers (I've Had It, 4th of July).

I'm With Stupid (Geffen, 1995) enhanced that program with a rebellious stance borrowed from Liz Phair. That's Just What You Are and Long Shot succeeded wonderfully in delivering very personal matters within a very catchy tune. A star was reborn with tunes such as Par for the Course.

Next, Mann stumbled into the usual major label blues. Her new album was deemed too uncommercial and shelved. Some of the songs ended up on the soundtrack to the film "Magnolia" and, lo and behold, gave them the biggest commercial recognition of her career. The piano and strings lullaby Wise Up and especially Save Me rank among her best. Bachelor No 2 (Superego, 2000) is a bitter collection that speculates quite a bit on the "martyr" persona but boasts the same "bold lyrics to sparse pop" concept (Ghost World, How Am I Different, Deathly). Her most personal number is the chamber pop of Just Like Anyone, so Aimee Mann-ish that only Jeff Buckley could possibly imitate it. It turns out it is dedicated to the late songwriter. Calling It Quits is equally austere and innovative.

Lost in Space (Superego, 2002) is her mature statement Mann's world is a world of losers. Redemption is rare and painful. Luckily, the way Mann tells her stories is, on the contrary, serene and almost joyful. The contrast is eerie, but also magic. The album, like its predecessor, feels like one continuous sing-along, a long melodic fantasia that happens to touch on the devastating torments of It's Not, This Is How It Goes, Invisible Ink, High on Sunday 51, etc. Her pristine voice and the plain refrains indulge in the guilty (and almost surreal) pleasures of Humpty Dumpty and Pavlov's Bell, two of her catchiest tunes ever. Lost In Space Special Edition (Super Ego, 2003) is a double-cd set that also contains live recordings, previously unreleased material and a video.

The songs on Aimee Mann's The Forgotten Arm (Superego, 2005), a sort of narrative concept album, are a bit too elaborate and convoluted. Instead of going for the heart, Mann goes for the brain, an area for which she is not as talented. The travelogue is highlighted by honest panels such as King of the Jailhouse, Going Through the Motions, Video, but rarely exhibits the spark that would push it above the emotional threshold of real tragedy.

One More Drifter In The Snow (Super Ego, 2006) is an album of Christmas songs.

@#%&*! Smilers (Superego, 2008) is lightweight compared with The Forgotten Arm, but still included True Believer (co-written with Grant Lee Phillips) and especially Phoenix.

Charmer (2012) is heavily arranged, but the songs mostly exist for the lyrics. If you don't care for the lyrics, there is little in the arrangement that can lift songs that are fundamentally bland. "Labrador", "Disappeared" and "Barfly"

The Both (2014) was a collaboration with Ted Leo that yielded power-pop ditties like Volunteers of America.

Mann was worth a lot better than these poppy albums and she proved it on the depressed, Mental Illness (SuperEgo, 2017), with drum-less intellectual meditations a` la Joni Mitchell (Snow Goose Cone and You Never Loved Me) and few concessions to melody and rhythm (Lies of Summer).

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