On ‘Under My Influence’, The Aces make a bid for pop excellence


When Kelly, the most recent single from the album dropped, fans were quick to take note of its subject matter. “Met a girl with a smile that I liked / And her name was Kelly,” lead singer Cristal Ramirez sings about falling in love with a girl, the first time the band ever openly broached the topic of sexuality.

Although two of its members are queer, the band shied away from the topic before. “In the past, we understood that The Aces was representing all four of us, so we kept it a little more vague,” band member Alisa Ramirez reveals in an interview with Gay Times.

And it is this precise breaking free of former reticence that characterises much of their sophomore effort. Where on their sugary debut they were playing it nice, the girls are in for the kill this time around. Take the moody I Can Break Your Heart Too for instance. “My life isn’t always about you / I can break your heart too,” Cristal declares over a dizzying guitar loop.

While wearing their heart on their sleeves, the band also find themselves delivering some huge pop moments. Lead single Daydream is the sort of song you’d want to drive down the highway to, New Emotion is a disco-lite stomper and Can You Do bears a certain resemblance to Maroon 5′s smash Moves Like Jagger that’s bent on getting you in the groove.

But perhaps the song that best represents The Aces’ status as a modern, millennial girl band is the tongue-in-cheek My Phone is Trying to Kill Me, which they wrote with hitmaker Justin Tranter (Selena Gomez, Jonas Brothers, Gwen Stefani). It’s a song about needing validation from someone you love that also doubles up as a commentary on our addiction to our screens.

The album takes a decidedly darker and more sombre turn by the halfway mark. Not Enough is an introspective tune about falling short of expectations. Thought of You talks about overcoming addiction: “I’ve had too many drinks / Kept bad company / Don’t remember her name / But know the feeling”. The mix of catchier, upbeat songs and slower, darker ones helps maintain a balance, although the album’s second half is undeniably weaker with tracks like Going Home sounding filler at best.

The ladies get their groove back, however, with closer Zillionaire, another bass-heavy, disco-influenced track about the riches of being in love. The chorus is the most instantly memorable one on the record and it wouldn’t be a surprise if “All the money in the world / Wouldn’t matter to me, girl / You’re the one that makes me feel like a zillionaire” found its way into the world of TikTok somehow.

Placing themselves in a sweet spot between the sound of pop acts like Dua Lipa and Little Mix, and alternative acts like HAIM and King Princess, The Aces have crafted a polished, festival-ready album that puts them side by side with the heavyweights. Now, it’s time for the rest of the world to fall under their influence, too.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: