The Aces Revel in Indie-Pop Excellence on I’ve Loved You For So Long

Music Reviews The Aces
The Aces Revel in Indie-Pop Excellence on I’ve Loved You For So Long

The Aces have been well-loved in the indie-pop scene for the past six years, and their third album, I’ve Loved You For So Long, reminds any wayward fans why. Following their landmark 2020 album, Under My Influence, the Utah fourpiece arrive in typical fashion—exploring queerness amid their growing pains, which inevitably intersect. The album is hypnotically bright and wonderfully self-assured, signaling the band’s COVID-induced metamorphosis. The pandemic prodded sisters Cristal and Alisa Ramirez and fellow members Katie Henderson and McKenna Petty to work through the indelible effects wrought by their youth membership in the Mormon church, and the resulting album glitters with unapologetic self-exploration.

The group’s growth announces itself most excitingly in the complexity and confidence of their album’s instrumentals. The title track revels in the sunniness of its own sound, reminiscent of beabadoobee’s summery riffs. The result is shimmering and bouncy, an oft-unattainable potion of indie-pop excellence. It’s clear and dancey; hopeful and uncomplicated. It is also totally stuck in my head, and will remain there for the foreseeable future.

On that note, if you’re not looking to catch yourself humming and/or imagining yourself driving sun-drunk down a nondescript oceanside road in a cherry-red convertible, beware of this LP. “Girls Make Me Wanna Die” is near-impossible not to shimmy to in your seat, and “Always Get This Way” has a level of borderline-irritating catchiness reminiscent of The 1975’s mid-career work. It’s a pure, unabashed, indie-pop earworm injected right into your brain, and it is awesome. “Not the Same” is my favorite off the album—the song’s autotune is perfectly electronic without veering toward tacky, its chorus made for kitchen dancing. It’s a perfect representation of the genre The Aces have grown into, and of the ways they are working to expand its limits.

“Suburban Blues” is, perhaps, the best example of The Aces’ growth in this region. Its guitar is shoegazey and lush, a hint at the group’s growing musical confidence. In fact, Ramirez and Henderson’s work with the instrument is consistently impressive across the album. A wall of sound—that’s sometimes slightly distorted and delightfully jagged at the edges, sometimes sharp and clear—hits you on the cheeky lamentation “Person.” There’s a synthy bent to “Stop Feeling” that adds an ‘80s alt-rock edge to an otherwise unremarkable song. Producer Keith Varon, the album’s sole collaborator, may be to thank for the sparkliness of these instrumentals.

Holes in the album’s fabric arise from lyrical snafus that, at times, become a bit mind-numbing. It’s hard not to giggle at the cringy singularity of the hyper-poppy opening line on “Solo”—“So stop acting like it’s esoteric to feel this way”—or at the shocking resemblance between “Miserable”’s rather woe-is-me line of inquiry into “Pure innocence / Where does that go? / Will we ever know?” and my middle school diary entries philosophizing on the same issue. Some of the songs are lightly quippy in ways that feel like they must be purposeful—they could go grittier if they wanted to, and they staunchly refuse to do so.

Perhaps that’s part of the point of I’ve Loved You For So Long. It’s easily understandable and (pushing to the side for a moment that aforementioned “esoteric” incident) quite unpretentious. Its storylines are meant to be applicable to listeners far and wide, a consideration not to be expected of four queer women born into circumstances which might have steeled them against a quest for mainstream relatability. It’s cookie-cutter in a comforting way, a proven hypothesis of the universality of the stickier parts of growing up, with an underlying bubblegum oontz-oontz to tie it up in a neat knot. It’s an album meant for a summer playlist, and it’s worth adding thereon.

Miranda Wollen is Paste‘s music intern. She lives in New York and attends school in Connecticut, but you can find her online @mirandakwollen.

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