In a solo career close to embarking on its third decade, Aimee Mann has been a consistently inventive and alluring singer-songwriter, sharing the same articulate qualities as her occasional collaborators Roger McGuinn, Elvis Costello, Bernard Butler and Difford & Tilbrook. It wasn’t always this way, though, and Mann’s earlier work as leader of ’Til Tuesday hasn’t aged particularly well.
Voices Carry was the group’s 1985 debut album, its title track even scoring them a US Top 10 hit but, in keeping with the radio staples of the times, it’s an awkward, synth-drenched sludge of a song, the kind of aural nothingness that swamped the soundtracks of teen movies of the era. Aimee’s voice is the best thing about it: a sultry beast that makes her sound like a slightly higher-pitched Chrissie Hynde.
The mechanical and impersonal production seems intent on strangling even the better songs at birth, though the slow dance regret of You Know The Rest and the defiant shades-of-Kate-Bush Don’t Watch Me Bleed just about survive the process. The promise is already there, and would manifest itself spectacularly in years to come, but this fledgling effort never really gets off the ground, a slave to the soullessness of the times.