Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Single Review | Aly & AJ | 'Take Me' (2017)

image source: stephen ringer

It’s a strange occurrence when musicians you used to listen to ten years ago re-emerge. A lot can change in a decade, and that’s certainly the case with Aly & AJ. 

The sister-duo was first signed to the Disney-owned label Hollywood records, producing two certified records: their certified Gold debut Into the Rush (2005), and Insomniatic (2007). After Insomniatic, the duo strayed away from the Disney-sphere and aimed towards producing music independently. They became 78violet in 2009, releasing the song ‘Hothouse’ and performing supporting songs ‘Boy’, ‘53rd Floor’, ‘Heart’, ‘Hole in the Earth’ and ‘8 Hours’ in a couple of intimate shows. 

Producing music independently was extremely arduous. After the release of ‘Hothouse’ and the few tracks performed, the duo began to distance themselves from the music world. Both began to tread familiar ground in the acting realm; Aly turned to the CW show iZombie (she had previous experience on the Disney show Phil of the Future), and AJ became a supporting actress on the ABC retro-comedy The Goldbergs

Aly recently opened up to ELLE Magazine about the distance they created between themselves and music: “It was a combination [of] the music business tiring us out and being young, and our love for acting,” Aly told the magazine. “We wanted to do projects that didn’t involve the two of us. Over time we realized making records without any sort of label support [or label funding] is really difficult. It ended up taking more time than we originally thought, but we also didn’t think it was going to be as hard as it was. That sort of crushed us, and we had to go back to square one.” 

Going ‘back to square one’ ensured that the sisters – now in their late twenties – could distance themselves from the teen-pop compositions they produced in their Disney days. Their ‘comeback’ single ‘Take Me’ fully encapsulates this reinvention, demonstrating a growth and a deeper understanding of their musical-selves that has been buried in the back of their minds for the past ten years.

The duo adorns ‘Take Me’ with two synths (one playing a melody, the other providing a constant beat), echoing drums and an exploding chorus. It fits the recent 80s-synth come back that Haim and The 1975 incorporate in their work, but do so in a way that echoes their previous pop-rock endeavors. The synth crescendo in the pre-chorus and the duo’s harmonization provides a familiarity that makes their audience feel young again. 

2017 seems to be a year where pop artists are going against the major labels; writing for themselves rather than what the radio will deem worthy, and the corporate producers that dictate a band to conform to societies expectations. 

This is only the first wave of Aly & AJ’s comeback, with a four-song EP (Ten Years) set for release later this year.


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