By Davis Blount
The Aces, the epitome of a homegrown band in Utah Valley, had entered near-mythic status in the local music scene long before signing their major label deal with Red Bull Records. Originally dubbed “The Blue Aces,” this four-piece group of teenage rockers had done it all: grinding it out on practically every local stage they could find, members Alisa, Cristal, Katie, and McKenna had become a major staple in the local scene. Unconfirmed rumors of their commitment to the band and each other only made them more appealing to fans (“I heard that one of them got asked to prom on the same night that they were scheduled to play Velour. Apparently she showed up to the show in a prom dress and full makeup, then went to prom after their set!”). Rumors or not, one thing was hard to ignore: The Aces were ready to take the next step.
On the strength of their lead single, “Stuck,” the band signed a major deal that allowed their debut album, When My Heart Felt Volcanic, to get the wide release it deserved. The album cover itself sets the stage for the musical themes found within, with brightly colored outfits that pair perfectly with the sun-drenched tunes that make up The Aces’ first full-length effort. The songs would feel right at home in Calabasas, California, not only due to the way the songs make listeners yearn for warm days with the top down, but due to a subtle wink at a Kardashian phrase in “Lovin’ is Bible” (For the uninitiated, “Bible” is used by the Kardashians to signify something of importance or seriousness, often as a replacement for the phrase “I swear”). The album is stuffed with 13 tracks, but makes for a breezy listening experience. Sure, songs like “Fake Nice” and “Stay” are danceable tunes, but even more somber songs like “Just Like That” and “Hurricane” will still have listeners glued to their headphones and speakers.
While the album boasts a number of readymade hit singles, the album’s closing song has shone brightest since the album’s release. “Waiting for You” has racked up a whopping 17+ million streams on Spotify, and for good reason. An anthem for the lovesick listeners waiting for their crush to make the move, this song reimagines a scenario in which all awkwardness is eased, making way for fun, flirting, and possibly a spark to ignite. The pleading in Cristal Ramirez’s voice carries an almost palpable yearning as she gives voice to an all-too-familiar feeling:
I’ll take your hand and kiss your fingers
So you don’t have to break the ice
No need for chill just lose your filter
I’m ready to dive in
Melt the ice and just swim
While the song may not give the full closure that would mend all heartache, it is a great song to turn to for catharsis and daydreaming.
The Aces’ debut is exceptionally strong for a first effort. The band is well produced, nearly all the songs are very catchy, and the band proves why they deserved this shot. Some aspects of the album may come off as a little too studio slick for those familiar with their live performances, having lost some of the energy that comes off the stage when the band is in a looser setting. This, however, is sure to work itself out with time. As the band not only grows more confident in the booth, this album ought to convince studio execs to allow the band to follow their instincts and explore their own sounds more seriously.
In sum, “When My Heart Volcanic” is an album that will no doubt be on repeat time and time again. It’s a perfect album to welcome the warmer months (or dream of warmer days when the ground is still snow covered). The stage is set for The Aces to build upon the momentum of this performance and ride it to new highs in the future.
Make sure to follow The Aces on Instagram. You can listen to “Waiting for You” below!