When I stumbled across The Aces earlier this year, they felt like HAIM, if the HAIM sisters had spent less time listening to Wilson Phillips and more time listening to New Found Glory. Their songs are undeniably summery and their hooks are undeniably catchy. The short version: If you care about pop music, you should really listen to The Aces.
The band’s first full-length, 2018’s When My Heart Felt Volcanic, featured a few perfect songs and suggested that greater things were ahead. Their sophomore LP, this summer’s Under My Influence, realizes that potential in an astonishingly vast way. On their new record, The Aces reveal more of their influences and the result is that Under My Influence features songs that pay homage to artists as wide-ranging as Taylor Swift, Sublime, Boyz II Men and Daft Punk. For all that, Under My Influence never feels derivative. The album experiments with a lot of styles but it does so with honesty and integrity and, maybe most importantly, with the support of fantastic songwriting. Even the moments that don’t feel magnificent at first reveal themselves as special over time. “My Phone Is Trying to Kill Me” wore me down with its relentless gang-vocal chorus, “Kelly” turns autotune into a deftly wielded affectation (to say nothing of the song’s sizzling guitar solo) and “801” turns a stoner jam into an LGBTQIA anthem.
That last point is important. Maybe a proudly queer record shouldn’t feel revolutionary in 2020 but, well, look around. It does and it is. And The Aces know it. As Cristal eloquently states during the second verse of “Going Home”:
Fuck anyone who says they doubt you. I love everything about you.
Fuck yes. I love everything about The Aces.