Recommended Tracks: New Emotion, I Can Break Your Heart Too, Thought of You
Artists You May Like: Dua Lipa, Pale Waves, HAIM
On their debut album, we heard the basics of growing up: finding love, experiencing heartbreak, taking chances, and making mistakes. Now, The Aces are older, wiser, and more confident. The girls are harnessing who they really are, and while they are still figuring a few things out, they are not leaving any stone unturned. Taking a more direct approach with their sophomore album, Under My Influence, The Aces shed light on some of the moments that have made them who they are today, and expand upon their alt-pop vibes.
At first, Under My Influence strikes us as a youthful, playful record with songs that cater to any emotional Millennial or Gen Z-er out there. The album’s opening track, “Daydream,” is almost what a thought bubble would sound like if it came to life: bright, airy, and filled with shades of pink and gold that could compete with any aesthetically pleasing theme on Instagram. The bright guitar riffs melt away your worries as lead vocalist, Cristal Ramirez, sings about the desire to keep a relationship alive when so many things work against it, such as time and distance. After the powerful spark of “New Emotion,” we experience the very pertinent third track, “My Phone is Trying to Kill Me.” Life in the 21st century is a stressful one, as we fight urges to “check that screen just one more time” and feelings of hopelessness that come about when someone ignores your messages. As fun as it is to be on your phone all the time, though, it is even more fun to put your phone down and stop yourself from going crazy.
Once we start getting into the heart of the album, we realize that Under My Influence is not as electric and easy-going as we thought. The Aces hit us with songs that explore complicated breakups and troubled relationships, such as “All Mean Nothing” and “I Can Break Your Heart Too.” Lyrically, these songs are almost inverses of one another, as “All Mean Nothing” comes from this place of insecurity and “I Can Break Your Heart Too” comes from a position of power. Musically, these songs show off how rhythmic and funky The Aces can be, as “All Mean Nothing” exudes 90s heartbreak vibes, and “I Can Break Your Heart Too” is more relaxed and mellow.
Most of the tracks on this album paint strong pictures of the stories that are being told, but none are more visual than “801.” Set to cool, tropical music that could be heard in an action movie where the spy goes undercover in a casino, bar, or hotel lobby, “801” pinpoints what life was like for The Aces growing up in Utah, aka “the 801.” The girls have never been shy about their sexualities and beliefs, and this track celebrates the sense of belonging that everyone should be able to experience. Cristal sings, “Let’s leave all those things that we were taught behind / ‘Cause being ourselves could never be a crime,” as she describes a night out at a gay club with friends.
The last few songs on Under My Influence are optimistic and celebratory, as we hear all about embracing the right kind of love. The “ballad” of the album is found here, in the form of “Thought of You.” This track is a nod to the hopeless romantics out there, who spend their days thinking about their dream girl or guy and hoping that they will find each other soon. From there, we slip into the gentle embrace of “Going Home,” which compares the feeling of being with a certain someone (a friend, a significant other, a family member) to the feeling of being home; I love how the track works on so many levels. Finally, we arrive at “Zillionaire,” which takes a crack at the value our society places on flaunting your riches. The Aces do not care about how much money you have or how expensive your car is – they know that the real value lies in the love you give and the love you receive.
Dare I say that The Aces have…aced it? Not only has the band made another fantastic album, but they have made an album that is perfect for summer. It will make you dance, cry, and feel inspired to live your best life – even from the confines of wherever you are quarantining right now. No matter how hectic life gets, just remember that you are under your own influence; do not be afraid to take control.
You can stream Under My Influence on platforms like Spotify and Apple Music.