Aly & AJ

Into the Rush [Deluxe Edition]

(CD - Hollywood #62640)

Review by

Aly & AJ are sort of a double-vision version of Hilary Duff. Like Hilary, who started out portraying the plucky Lizzie McGuire, Aly co-stars as Keely Teslow on the Disney Channel's Phil of the Future. She had her first singing success with a bubbly take on the Lovin' Spoonful's "Do You Believe in Magic" that shot to the top of the charts on Radio Disney, and with her younger sister AJ contributed to the soundtracks for the Disney films Herbie: Fully Loaded (another cover, "Walkin' on Sunshine") and Ice Princess ("No One," a melodic descendant of Avril Lavigne's "I'm with You"). In 2005 the Michalka sisters made their album debut with Into the Rush, released like Hilary's Metamorphosis through the Disney-owned Hollywood Records. All of their initial singles are here, which is nice for fans hoping to avoid buying all those soundtracks. And the rest of Rush isn't all that different. It's more ambitious than freshly scrubbed teen pop, but doesn't venture further than offering a few empowering ballads and the concise, professionally processed pop of "Collapsed" and "Something More." Aly & AJ get writing credits on every song here except the covers. But they've worked closely with a bank of producers and co-writers, and that ensures that Into the Rush has the right mixture of personal touch and corporate marketability. "All lead and background vocals sung by Aly & AJ," the liner notes read, so it's nearly impossible to tell who's who. But Aly & AJ can actually sing -- their vocals have way more personality than prefab Disney hopefuls like Hayden Panettiere or Caleigh Peters -- and the arrangements are slick without resorting to flashily empty pap. The sisters are lyrically limited -- "I didn't know what was in store/When I walked right through the door/Then I saw you over there/Our blue eyes locked in a stare" -- but what do you expect? This is music written to entertain 'tweens. It's notable then that Into the Rush is listenable, likeable, and more about being memorable than being Disney product. Smart move -- Duff took a similar route on her first record, and look what happened to her. [Into the Rush was reissued as a Deluxe Edition in August 2006, containing three extra songs -- "Chemicals React," "Shine," and "Never Behind," all put at the front of the album -- plus "new versions" of "Something More" and "Collapsed." It also has a bonus DVD containing music videos for "Chemicals React" and "Rush," plus a "SIMLISH Music Video" for "Chemicals React."]

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