Aly & AJ


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Insomniatic Review

by Marisa Brown

Trying to move from a tween audience to a teen one, sisters Aly and AJ Michalka eliminated the ├╝ber-sweet pop covers and songs about kidnapping on their second full-length, Insomniatic, focusing solely on the very teenaged conundrums of crushes and breakups and doe-eyed love. They've also started making MTV movies, and not just Disney ones, appearing together in the network's straight-to-DVD My Super Sweet 16 (yes, a movie based on the "reality" show), for which they also perform "Potential Breakup Song," also found here. They're older now, their fans are older, and they're hoping they can break from the mouse-eared audience and prove themselves legitimate artists with some staying power. The thing is, the songs on Insomniatic, all of which are at least co-written by the sisters, still sound as if they've been written by two teenage girls -- teenage girls with some very adult production help, to be sure -- who are desperately trying to sound older while still not alienating their younger fans. The tracks on the album, excepting the aforementioned opener, "Potential Breakup Song," which is guiltily enjoyable, are that same kind of half-rock, half-dance soulless pop that has been played and consumed for years, and doesn't do much to separate Aly & AJ from the rest of what's out there. Perhaps, in a way, this is some measure of success on their part. They are no longer little girls who sing pop music, distinguished only for that, but instead just another pretty, faceless group in a bunch. Yes, it's a bonus that they seem to actually be able to sing (though it's often hard to tell, as numerous effects have been placed on their vocals, perhaps in an attempt to make them sound more adult), and they do have a hand in writing their own songs, even playing instruments on a few, but there's nothing about the sisters or Insomniatic that proves them to be anything more than just another couple of girls.

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