Culture Pick | Aly & AJ announce 2022 tour, and we’re ready

Monica Nakashima, Staff Reporter

The duo has made a comeback recently, culminating in the release of their fourth studio album, “A Touch of the Beat Gets You Up on Your Feet Gets You Out and Then Into the Sun.” “A Touch of the Beat” is Aly & AJ’s first studio album since “Insomniatic” in 2007.

On May 7, the duo tweeted tour date information for spring and summer 2022. Billboard published its staff’s picks for the best 50 albums of 2021 in June. “A Touch of the Beat” made the list. The Crimson White culture desk also highlighted Aly & AJ in it’s Valentine’s Day playlist.

In an Instagram post announcing the album’s release, Aly said it was “the record we were born to make.” AJ said the album is “how you’d think of California if you were thinking of California as a melody.”

The duo told People magazine they wanted to create songs that feel timeless to listeners while also capturing the music of their home state, California. The result is a pop-rock record with disco, soft rock and country influences. The album features 12 tracks; including the singles “Slow Dancing,” “Listen!!!,” “Pretty Places,” “Symptom of Your Touch” and “Don’t Need Nothing.”

The album opens with “Pretty Places,” an up-tempo song that’s perfect for singing while driving down a highway on a summer day. 

“Slow Dancing” is the next featured single and one of the slower tracks on the album, as its name suggests. The lyrics describe the distance and longing felt by two lovers who want to be reunited. The song features soft guitar strumming alongside gentle drum beats. The bridge and outro perk up to create the more typical pop sound expected from the duo, but the overall sound is that of an acoustic love song. 

In an interview with Paper Magazine, the sisters said they wanted the “Slow Dancing” video to tell the story of “two lovers separated from each other during an unprecedented time.” This was especially relatable for listeners with the loneliness felt during the months of quarantine. 

“Symptom of Your Touch” takes the album in a wildly different direction in both its theme and lyrics. The song details the pain and struggle of the singer as they keep returning to an ex-lover. They lament the fact they cannot end things with this person, as the lyrics in the closing hook repeat the lines, “Why am I never capable / Of doing the right thing just for once?”

Many of the songs in “A Touch of the Beat” contain messages about romantic relationships, and have a wide variety of pining, heartbreak and wanting to be fully understood by a partner. 

The album’s variety comes not only from analyzing the lyrics but from the different tempos of the songs. “Listen!!!” can be heard as a struggle between the singer trying to get someone to listen, with one of its opening lyrics proclaiming, “I tried to empathize / But you’re so dismissive.” While some would think the message’s main target is a toxic relationship, they would only be half right. 

In an interview with Shore Fire, Aly said the song is about the feeling of being trapped in a relationship or system. It’s no surprise that Aly & AJ, as political advocates, included a song with a message of hidden activism. 

“Don’t Need Nothing” is the titular song of the album as a whole, with its hook, “A touch of the beat gets you up on your feet, gets you out and then into the sun.” It is one of the most energetic songs on the album. Aly said in an interview with Billboard that the completion of “Don’t Need Nothing” gave the sisters motivation to start working on a new album wholeheartedly. 

In the interview, the duo also said they used the lyric as its title a couple of months after they started working at Hollywood’s famed Sunset Sound Studio. They chose the recording location largely for its chambers, which Aly said make people’s voices sound angelic. AJ said the majority of the album was made in one sitting within one week. 

“A Touch of the Beat Gets You Up on Your Feet Gets You Out and Then Into The Sun” might seem like it’s trying too hard to be unique and indie with its long album title, but the album is full of wonderfully written and performed music paired with the vocals of the Michalka sisters and the gorgeous cinematography of the music videos. 

As Aly & AJ continue to make new music, many fans hope they will keep making catchy feel-good and smooth acoustic tracks.