Fifteen years after “Insomniatic,” the pop duo Aly & AJ released “a touch of the beat gets you up on your feet gets you out and then into the sun.” The new album, dropped on May 7, shows the duo’s growth in their sound as artists. Though Alyson and Amanda Michalka were initially labeled as a pop-rock duo, they parted ways with Hollywood Records and developed their own style of music. With this album released, their new sound as alternative-rock artists has become more established. This new album has multiple feel-good songs that really reflect the title of the album. Aly & AJ have recently reentered the spotlight when their 2007 hit “Potential Breakup Song” was revamped on TikTok and an explicit version of the song was rereleased, where the duo previewed the next song on their album, “Slow Dancing.”
“Slow Dancing” is the fourth song and it is arguably their best song on the album. It highlights Aly & AJ’s voices and talent for harmonizing with one another while shedding light on their experiences as adults. Now 32 and 30 years old, the duo used “Slow Dancing” to tell a story of a person who yearns for her loved one to return. The mellow song repeats the pre-chorus, “Move the kitchen table out to the lawn / Roll up the rug the stereo’s on / All I can imagine is being in your arms,” followed by the chorus, “I don’t need anything fancy / I just need me and you slow dancing / Hell’s bending, keeping me captive / Heaven’s here, it’s right where you’re standing / Slow dancing.” The music video adds a new layer to the song, as it depicts time passing as well as the moments before and after AJ was able to dance with her partner. The song is heartfelt and the earworm chorus is a tune that sticks and leaves you wanting to dance with a loved one. “Slow Dancing” is a tune for the summer and can be compared to Miley Cyrus’ “Malibu.”
The album starts off with “Pretty Places,” which includes a home-felt music video filled with scenic clips of the sisters traveling in the back of a truck together. It is reminiscent of summer days pre-COVID-19 and excites listeners when looking or thinking ahead. The sisters look ageless and genuinely happy in their music videos, and it is impossible not to feel that joy in the song.
“Symptom of Your Touch” is a fun summer song as well. Aly & AJ capture the excitement of summer and songs such as “Symptom of Your Touch” seem perfect for movie moments. However, other songs on the album are not particularly unique. “Don’t Need Nothing,” the ninth song on the album, features the title of the album as a highly repetitive chorus that lasts much of the song, which takes away most of the excitement from listeners.
“Personal Cathedrals” is their third-best song on the album and is an alternative rock song that has a vague country and western-like feel to its core. Aly & AJ sing, “Let’s leave this party right now / We never liked these people / Cowboys and hopeless crowns / Spinning us all around / Looking us up and down / They treat these lonely dance floors / Like personal cathedrals / Even diamonds here don’t shine / Spinning us all around / Looking us up and down.” The duo managed to sing of darker themes yet still make people feel happy and want to dance while listening.
Aly & AJ first showed the power of sisterhood in their song “On the Ride,” released with their original movie “Cow Belles,” and it is nice to see their relationship is still going strong. Though the entire album may not be filled with top tunes for the summer, there are a few songs worth listening to. For those influenced by Aly & AJ in the early 2000s, it is nice to see how the sisters have grown in their new album.