Aly & AJ’s return to music hit a momentous high on their excellent follow-up to some remarkable EPs: a touch of the beat gets you up on your feet gets you out and then into the sun, and that consistency shined through and through. It keeps us fans, but as fans, we also understand what we like and don’t, so for their follow-up, With Love From comes with incredible highs, continuing that consistency with potent new directions that elevates the craft beyond pop. Shifting from the more summery pop-rock to pop that carries the influence of Americana and Country music on its sleeves. Unfortunately, the album doesn’t stay with this throughout, sometimes shifting back to a more pop-rock-focused sound, even when they aren’t as bad. These pop songs woven within the tracklists feel like it panders to the pop music fans have gotten to love when they could have had more consistency by keeping the aesthetic constant. But With Love From is one solid album that expands beyond the acoustic-driven fortitude of its sonic influences, creating an emotionally potent album.
The music of With Love From isn’t devoid of pop sounds as it plays a vital part in its central core as it guides the varying melodies that lavishly coat the occasionally twangy production. There’s a softening cadence, which heartens the slower tempo rhythms of the strings, allowing one to get engulfed within the twinkling acoustics and slow, methodical percussion that makes you feel like you’re in the room as it’s performing. It’s their liveliness within the performances, which eloquently contrasts the emotionally rich array of sounds. Though it’s a little more direct and nuanced with the first two tracks, Aly & AJ take it a step forward with the beautifully captivating “After Hours.” It powerfully balances styles, allowing the pop-rock notes to engulf the melody while the instrumentations elevate the twangy, danceable moods to keep the spirits high. It’s like a slight anti-thesis to the music getting presented prior and immediately after with the elegant, stripped-down ballad “Blue Dress.” This fantastic four-track run is one of the ones to remember within the album, as some short strings of pop-rock take away from the heavy influence overhead.
“Love You This Way” and “Talking In My Sleep” are the two that don’t feel suitably resonant in the track list as they lean too much into pop, taking away from the remarkable Americana/Country influence and a consistent ride from front to back. “Talking In My Sleep” feels more akin to something from their last album – more glitzy and poppy, the slight identity shift in the strings can’t boast it further, making one lost within the flow. The former is more standard, never seeming to find strength on either side of the musical aisle as the songwriting and melodies aren’t as strong as others. But as they come into your musical stratosphere, they detract from the strength surrounding it through other songs like “Sunchoke,” which audibly brings you front and center with the aesthetic influence behind the lyricism. It’s all reflective, talking about emotional aspects of relationships and life; they give us a take on closing time, delivering an anthem about allowing yourself a moment to reflect and stay positive through the nights.
With Love From is a harmless but radiant and vibrant pop album that shifts the dynamic from what fans have gotten to hear from them, giving us something different than what one would expect. It isn’t your typical pop-rock album, so the more it progresses, the more you get entrenched in the fantastic melancholy of the string rhythms. Though Aly & AJ are the primary instrumentalists behind the strings, the producers bring forth the dimensions to round out the songs in these songs within the fantastical Americana/Country vibes that have slowly gotten reflected amongst some indie pop artists, like Clairo and Angel Olsen. A lot of credit goes to Aly & AJ’s producers, especially recurring collaborators Ryan Sparker and Yves Rothman, whose resume within this sphere isn’t vast. But they deliver exemplary work with an understanding of the direction taken by its lead artists, and it shows from the giddy-up catchiness of “Tear the Night Up” to the more classical take “Baby Lay Your Head Down.” It’s a continuous feat of great music that gets stumped along the way through more pop-like songs.
There was much enjoyment in listening to Aly & AJ’s album, With Love From; the music gets adjusted to work potently within the confines of its sonic sphere and excel beyond. It left me with surprises and an enjoyable trip to return to whenever the vibe calls for it, considering one can do worse. I’d recommend this highly; fan or no fan, what they build and deliver is beautiful. You’ll leave satisfied without feeling bloated, and that’s all one can ask, as it does change the pace from more loaded hip-hop and pop albums.