“We could pack up this house, get out of town / Drive across country, one taillight out…”
Aly & AJ are making incredible music.
Let’s not get it twisted, though: this is not new information. The sister act have achieved the damn near impossible, miraculously emerging from the Disney Machine and consistently delivering tune after dreamy indie-pop tune over the past few years.
Still, it’s become abundantly clear that they’re hitting their stride now more than ever.
Following the release of their gorgeously romantic, us-against-the-world anthem of a lead single “Slow Dancing” late last year and follow-up kiss-off “Listen!!!”, as well as the long overdue explicit version of their “Potential Breakup Song,” the duo returned Friday (March 5) with “Pretty Places,” the latest offering off of their mouthful of a studio album, due out on May 7 – their first in 14 years, in fact – recorded with producer Yves Rothman at Sunset Sound. (More on that in a moment.)
“Pretty Places” is pretty perfect, driving-with-the-windows-down twangy-pop. It’s lush and nostalgic and summery and dreamy with a vintage Americana appeal, inspiring a wanderlust that, vaccines willing, we’ll all be able to explore for ourselves later this year, be it a cross-country drive with friends or a contemplative late night ride along the coast. (“Singing to the radio, don’t worry, baby / With the windows down, I can feel it in the air tonight…“)
That urgent bridge, especially, captures the present antsy mood following over a year and counting in various stages of quarantine: “I’ll go anywhere / Let’s go right now / Go anywhere / Doesn’t matter how far…”
After teasing the album title to puzzled fans letter by letter over the past few weeks on social media, Aly & AJ finally revealed on Tuesday (March 9) that their new record is called – brace yourself – a touch of the beat gets you up on your feet gets you out and then into the sun.
Okay, Aly & AJ Apple! Eat your heart out, When the Pawn…
“There’s nothing more satisfying then sitting in a room asking the universe to humbly bring you the bones of a song. Especially when you have a creative genius as your producer constantly encouraging you to not jump ship, and to trust the process. We started conversations around making a full album together way back in early 2019, but it wasn’t until a writing trip in the fall that the record started to take shape. There were many discussions over the sound of this record, the overall tone, and what we wanted to accomplish. Yves made us feel free to be exactly who we were. That we needed to show people that we were two American girls who grew up in the Valley in LA that intend on putting out positive, inspirational, but also revealing and honest writing into the world,” the duo said in a statement.
“We weirdly held an unnatural confidence over the recording & writing process this year (even when things would start and stop given all of the Covid shutdowns). It was like we were meant to make this music regardless of the world falling into the abyss because it was the record we were always born to make. That’s what music is all about though at the end of the day. The SONGS! The way it makes you feel, the memories you associate with it, the healing it brings, the celebration a chorus delivers you when your windows are rolled down and life feels perfect for that one fleeting moment. The feeling of getting back out into the sun.”
See that? It’s present in the music, the lyrics, and in every explanation of the creation and intention behind these tracks: they just get it.
Based on what we’ve heard thus far, the new album’s all about preserving and nurturing the good relationships, self-preservation in the face of bad ones, and relishing in the simple pleasures in life, as all we have is right now – which truly couldn’t be better timed in the wake of massive priority reappraisal amid the pandemic.
May can’t come soon enough.