Review: The Aces – When My Heart Felt Volcanic

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A scintillating pop debut with no weak link, When My Heart Volcanic is pop perfection. The future of this Utah four-piece is very bright.

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When My Heart Felt Volcanic, the debut album of Utah-based female four-piece, The Aces, is a joyous, upbeat and thoroughly entertaining piece of pop rock. Consisting of vocalist and guitarist Cristal Ramirez, her sister Alisa on drums, guitarist Katie Henderson and bassist McKenna Petty, The Aces have created a record which undeniably serves notice of their considerable talent.

Best described as guitar-led funky pop-rock with a heart, When My Heart Felt Volcanic explores the exultant highs and devastating lows of adolescent romance, nostalgically dragging the listener back to their youth. For the most part, the album is an overwhelming celebration of love and all its virtues, however, the endearing sweetness is laced with an underlying sadness. The album begins with a bang: the first four tracks are confident, polished slices of pop perfection. ‘Volcanic Love’ is built around Ramirez’ emotive vocals and pulsating guitar riffs whilst ‘Stuck’ is an up-tempo, funky track which centres on the frustration of a stalling relationship. ‘Fake Nice’ is a deliciously petty takedown which revels in its funky backing whilst displaying Ramirez’ impressive vocal range, in particular the stunning falsetto employed during the chorus. ‘Lovin’ is Bible’ is relentlessly upbeat yet employs some extremely strange lyrics, with the chorus repeating “you know I’m not religious but your lovin’ is bible”.

Yet, the skillset of this fab four is not reserved for merely funky, no-frills pop rock. Some of the stand-out tracks of the album are equally some of the most stripped back. ‘Hurricane’ is a heart-wrenchingly stunning piano ballad in which every note is saturated with emotion and feeling. ‘Waiting for You’ is equally impressive in its simplicity. Blending a reverberating, Tame Impala-esque bassline with synths, claps and the gentle patter of hi-hats, the track builds to an uplifting, chorus led crescendo. Whilst this versatility is undeniably impressive, the overwhelming feeling you get whilst listening to this album is one of joy. Even the most curmudgeonly of curmudgeons would be hard-pressed not to find themselves bobbing away to the relentlessly upbeat nature of The Aces’ debut album.

As a first effort, this is a strikingly accomplished pop record. Belying their youth and relative inexperience, When My Heart Felt Volcanic marks The Aces out as one of the premier up and coming pop groups. It is testament to the overall quality of the album that at no point does a track feel dull or unoriginal. Nor is the album overlong – at just thirteen tracks, The Aces cleverly leave you wanting more. I’m sure I won’t be alone in eagerly anticipating the future of this extremely exciting young group.

When My Heart Felt Volcanic is out now via Red Bull Records

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