ALBUM REVIEW: Mann and Leo combine ‘Both’ talents

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First Posted: 5/13/2014

If you are of the mindset that power pop has yet to see its very own Nancy & Lee or Delaney & Bonnie or Steve & Eydie (you get the picture), you clearly haven’t hipped yourself to The Both.

30 years ago, while Aimee Mann was on the cusp of the biggest hit of her mighty career as a member of Til Tuesday with “Voices Carry,” Ted Leo was a Seton Hall prep school kid woodshedding his love for punk and hardcore on the New York City underground scene. Yet while the two artists couldn’t have been more worlds apart, you know damn well the future frontman of such influential groups as Chisel and the Pharmacists kept WPLJ on his car radio driving back home to New Jersey whenever he heard Aimee’s voice on the air. Mann, meanwhile, is undoubtedly cool enough to have had “Tyranny of Distance” in rotation when she was penning the music for her 2000 solo masterpiece “Bachelor No. 2.”

Now, two of the most heralded singer/songwriters of the aughties have combined forces to form this group they are calling The Both (formerly known as #Both, a nod to the pair’s correspondence over Twitter).

And it warms the soul to report that this collaboration not only lives up to but exceeds the expectations set forth by this tinderbox union. Original tunes like “The Gambler,” “Volunteers of America,” and “Hummingbird” were derived by Mann and Leo bouncing ideas, melodies, and lyrics between the two of them via long distance correspondence until they came up with the perfect balance of each other’s distinct styles of songcraft. Meanwhile, an outstanding cover of “Honesty Is No Excuse” from the first Thin Lizzy album shows just how much they are on the same page, sonically.

Here’s hoping The Both isn’t just a one-off for this talented tandem.

The Both ‘The Both’ Rating: W W W W