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Album Review: The Aces – Under My Influence

Written by Album reviews, Music

After two years since the release of their debut album, When My Heart Felt Volcanic, The Aces are ready to release their sophomore album, Under My Influence .

The Utah-based band consisting of sisters, Cristal (lead vocals and guitar) and Alisa Ramirez (drums) as well as McKenna Petty (bass) and Katie Henderson (vocals and guitar) started playing together in high school until they signed with Red Bull Records.

Consisting of 14 tracks, The Aces deliver a mixture of their classic funk-tinged dance tracks as well as some new synth-pop ballads to illustrate what it’s like to be your “complete and total unapologetic self”. Their sophomore album also provides fans with a glimpse to a more relatable and authentic band identity; an homage to their development since the nostalgic When My Heart Felt Volcanic days.

The first two singles that the band released, ‘Daydream’ and ‘Lost Angeles’ bring back the riff-filled danceable tracks that fans may find familiar from the previous album. ‘Daydream’ illustrates the feeling of infatuation and excitement that new relationships experience. The nostalgic feeling of summer love of the track is undoubtedly, a great way to debut the new album to fans. ‘Lost Angeles’ also delivers a similar sound with fresh and light guitar riffs but a more bittersweet message about the reality of heartache; “driving on sunset, everything’s perfect, but I think we lost ourselves a mile ago.” The breakup seems to be tied to the city of Los Angeles as the singer asks to be taken home as she’s “had enough” of a place she used to dream of.

The second track of the album, ‘New Emotion’, also carries on the with funk-tinged tracks that came before it. The band’s intent to place fans Under My Influence through relatable tracks rings true with ‘New Emotion’ as it explores the confusion and excitement that everyone experiences when they develop a crush; “you’re my friend and I shouldn’t be thinking about you like that, but I’m thinking like that.” The song’s relatability lies in how the lyrics provide an over-exaggerated and comedic approach to suddenly crushing on someone; a reaction most of us have probably experienced.

. The track holds a more aggressive and distinct sound as if the band were meaning to portray the frustration of online dating

The atmosphere of relatability continues with ‘My Phone is Trying To Kill Me’. The third track of the album depicting the effect of social media on relationships and the blatant “social media stalking” that most modern day people take part in. The track holds a more aggressive and distinct sound as if the band were meaning to portray the frustration of online dating and the addiction people have to their phones; “on read, I feel hopeless, tryna’ live in the moment, I check that screen just one more time, my phone is trying to kill me.”

The band’s intention of creating Under My Influence to show their more “authentic selves” can be reflected in tracks that incorporate more lgbtq+ themes such as ‘Kelly’ and ‘Zillionaire’. ‘Kelly’ was the albums final single released on the 1st of June as a tribute to pride month. The song explores a female love interest that seems to be out of the singer’s league; “stop playing with my heart before you tear it apart.” The song has a new R&B  feel to it which, is a new style that the band seems to be exploring thus making the track new and interesting to fans. ‘Zillionaire’ is the last track of the album and mentions a female love interest as well and how her love has made the singer “feel like a zillionaire” rather than “all the money in the world.”

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In the spirit of The Aces embracing new sounds, the album also includes more pop-synth tracks such as ‘Not Enough’ and ‘Cruel’. The contrasting sounds of these tracks compared to the familiar pop-funk style of the band allows the album to include more reflective songs about heartbreak and restricting relationships. The profound absence of instrumental sound which, is replaced with the sounds of a drum pad and synth notes reflects this as it mutes the more cheerful riffs the band is known for. ‘Not Enough’ describes a relationship in which one person keeps giving and yet the other always thinks its “not enough”. ‘Cruel’ also looks at similar themes in which the singer knows how toxic their ex is and yet, she can’t stop thinking about him; “can’t you go and hurt someone new?”

The track’s close relation to the “trip hop” genre almost illustrates an aesthetic cinematic experience

Arguably, the most personal song in the album is the 7th track, ‘801’. What is possibly a tribute to their hometown, 801 being the area code for Utah, the track brings a feeling of nostalgia to the band’s teenage years and what it felt like to be a teen then; “growing up in the 801”. This is reflected in lyrics such as how the night, “rocks to the rhythm that brings out rebels” and how, “there was only one club so we blow it up”. The track’s close relation to the “trip hop” genre almost illustrates an aesthetic cinematic experience.

Ultimately, The Aces’ sophomore album brings back familiar happy, pop-funk tracks that fans can dance to. However, the maturity and growth of the band is also evident in their experimentation with more pop-synth and R&B sounds. The relatability of some tracks as well as the glimpse fans would get of what makes up the band’s identity undoubtedly places listeners Under My Influence.

4/5

Last modified: 18th June 2020

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