The Both, Pillars & Tongues | Rock, Pop, Etc | Chicago Reader

The Both, Pillars & Tongues Recommended Free All Ages Soundboard Image

When: Mon., July 21, 6:30 p.m. 2014

This collaboration between Aimee Mann and Ted Leo does exactly what you’d hope it would: Mann’s relative calm helps tame Leo’s hyperactivity, while Leo’s wound-up postpunk energy enlivens Mann’s well-crafted but often rather emotionally flat pop songs. The two of them developed a mutual appreciation society while touring together a couple years ago, and they wrote the tunes on the Both’s self-titled debut in long-distance sessions; they recorded in 2013, and Mann’s SuperEgo label released the album this April. Neither musician’s personality gets short shrift in their partnership—Mann’s cool tenderness dominates the elegant “No Sir,” even though Leo sings the last verse in his usual neck-vein-popping style, and “Volunteers of America” contains a powerful albeit smoothed-out jolt of the post-Thin Lizzy agitprop Leo developed with the Pharmacists. But the mutual tempering of excesses that makes the Both interesting might also prevent the duo’s music from having much lasting power; as irritating as these two can be on their own, they’re also more interesting uncut. —Peter Margasak

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