Monday, September 11th, 2017

Aly & AJ – Take Me

Poptimist high school reunion…


Tara Hillegeist: I wish I could say I enjoyed E•MO•TION; I found it flat and unengaging as a whole experience, but I’m really digging this new b-side from those sessions anyway, now that I’ve got some time and distance and it’s not attached to a whole album — wait, why are you giving me that look?

Joshua Copperman: Considering Aly and AJ are totally different people than they were a decade ago, it’s better to treat this as a new artist than as a Potential Comeback Song. Verdict: in a vacuum, it’s a lot of fun! I’ll even admit that it’s a better Carly Rae Jepsen song than “Cut To The Feeling,” if not quite to the level of something transcendent like “Your Type.” To be fair, the production on “Take Me”, by Mike Elizondo, is much more complicated than much of E•MO•TION, which is both a great thing (love the random drum fills that pop up everywhere) and sometimes unnecessary (that whole delayed-beat gimmick gets very repetitive). The lyrics are a lot of fun, but moments like the distorted “first you gotta ask me out” at the bridge are needlessly edgy for what’s mostly a casual bop. 

Katie Gill: “But Katie,” you say, “this is just a generic electropop jam that’s yet another retread of 1980s synthpop! Every electropop group out there thinks that they should use this 1980s synthpop aesthetic!” To which I say, yes, you’re right, this is treading water and not bringing anything new to the table, but I’m a sucker for this nonsense, at least it’s a well-crafted retread, and I’ve had “Potential Breakup Song” stuck in my head since 2008 so WHO GIVES A DAMN, new Aly & AJ, let’s all celebrate.

Alfred Soto: The point at which rattling synth-pop curdles from pastiche to parody, some might say. Yet “Take Me” is to Carly Rae Jepsen (or Tegan and Sara) what “The Glow of Love” was to Chic. Once again, I credit the charisma of the performers. So they almost get away with it.

Will Adams: There’s no chorus. There’s no chorus! Just a sinkhole of windswept ’80s lite rock that, no matter how explosive it is here, has reached a saturation point amongst so many bubbling under pop acts. St. Lucia’s “Dancing On Glass” managed the beat-late drop better, MUNA injected the modern flourishes better, and Carly Rae Jepsen conveyed the emotion better.

David Sheffieck: Not only is this better than a reunion song from a mid-range Radio Disney contributor has any right to be, it’s an easy qualifier as one of the best of the ongoing, apparently-inexhaustible ’80s (or “’80s”) trend. Aly & AJ’s synths may be a bit familiar, but if the opening chords start them at a deficit then the Tears for Fears chime of the guitar and stadium-filling echo on the snare are inspired enough to make up for it. And the lyric would manage if they didn’t: it’s a demand, a plea, an unsuppressed urge that erupts into the over-driven, staccato shriek of the song’s hook. That hook is unique, and uniquely arresting; I’ll happily sit through another year of MOR synthpop for a bit like the pseudo-Clearmountain Pauses surrounding it. They’re vertiginous moments, as if the song needs to regain its balance before pushing forward, pulsing and distorted and sparklingly irresistible.

Claire Biddles: Love it as I do, this warm ’80s synth template has been filled by so many acts in the past year that it takes real charisma, or a banging chorus, or preferably both, to keep me interested. “Take Me” doesn’t have either, and the screeching, try-hard vocals of Aly and/or AJ are at odds with their chill surroundings: a juxtaposition that’s grating rather than subversive.

Nortey Dowuona: Wandering synth pads over limp drums and a suddenly sliding bass slipping through the ghostly parts of a decently written song about going out with someone cool.

Katherine St Asaph: Closest thing to a new Sky Ferreira single it looks like we’re going to get.

Ashley John: “It seems to me that our three basic needs, for food and security and love, are so mixed and mingled and entwined that we cannot straightly think of one without the others. So it happens that when I write of hunger, I am really writing about love and the hunger for it, and warmth and the love of it and the hunger for it … and then the warmth and richness and fine reality of hunger satisfied … and it is all one.” (The Art of Eating by M. F. K. Fisher.) “I know that you would want it/ If I could sink my teeth into you” (“Take Me” by Aly & AJ.)

Stephen Eisermann: Aly & AJ won me over so many years ago with their iconic “Potential Breakup Song,” so I came in ready to enjoy this. Thankfully, these two didn’t disappoint. The interesting structure of the song — one that relies primarily on the sisters’ delivery and the music to sell the story of a woman’s internal monologue during a far too long “talking phase” — tries its best to carry the song all the way to excellence, but the lack of any concrete details do make it difficult to fully immerse in the song’s universe. Still, their delivery is cold enough to fell their hurt and see the resentment on the horizon; a beautiful, heartbreaking picture is painted, however blurry, and sometimes filling in the details with pieces from your memory is  more cathartic anyway. 

Alex Clifton: As one of maybe thirty people who have obsessively checked Aly & AJ’s Wikipedia page for the past, err, nine years to see when they were ever going to release a new album — yeah, we got the gorgeous, haunted “Hothouse“, but that never led to an official LP — I was ecstatic to hear that they’d be returning this fall. I tried so hard not to get my hopes up unnecessarily, but it turns out I needn’t have worried at all. “Take Me” is fully engrossing. I can’t focus on anything else as I listen to it. Aly & AJ have taken a page out of Carly Rae Jepsen’s 80s-inspired E•MO•TION songbook rather than Taylor Swift’s glossed-over pop, which pays off tremendously. The verses are lyrically Spartan, but as soon as AJ yells “WHEN YOU GONNA TAKE ME OUT?” I’m caught up in the moment, shot with the same desperation. Like Jepsen before them, the girls cut right to the feeling and leave me needing more.

Joshua Minsoo Kim: Is there anything quite like the process of courtship? No, not with a person, but with a song. When I first heard “Take Me,” its chorus genuinely surprised me — the constantly shifting synthesizers and dramatic drum fills were technicolor lights flashing before my eyes, compounding on the shock I had already felt from the go-for-broke “WHEN YOU GONNA TAKE ME OUT!” It was a good first impression to say the least, so I decided to investigate further. In an effort to fully understand what the song had to offer, I spent numerous hours listening, dancing, and singing along to it in various settings. I’ve become less obsessed recently, primarily listening to it during my work commute. Those listens have become crucial, though, and it’s only now that I’ve begun to really appreciate it. If there’s anything I’ve learned from my time spent with perfume, it’s that I need to be willing to submit myself to art, to let it become a part of my identity beyond a mere signpost of personal taste. And as such, listening to “Take Me” has become an essential part of my morning ritual. And the joy that overflows from “Take Me”‘s coquettish vocals and lyrics have shaped how I (want to) act throughout the day. Last Friday, I was standing near the back of my classroom and inadvertently started singing the first lines of “Take Me” while doing a little dance. One of my students looked up and said, “What are you doing Mr. Kim?” “Oh you know,” I chuckled, “I’m just in a really good mood.”

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One Response to “Aly & AJ – Take Me”

  1. RIP 78violet