Tween pop siblings closely affiliated with the Mouse and The Man Above, Aly & AJ make a Duff-like bid for the mainstream world on their catchy, quirksome new single, “The Potential Break-Up Song”. It’s the kind of song you feel obliged to hate but for some reason gets up under your skin as a near-perfect pop entry.
Anchored in a speedy wave of vocoder-inflected sass and nerdy new wave synths alongside other electro-pop skirmishes, it’s hard to fully digest the fireworks display of sound the first time around. But that killer opening line (“It took too long for you to call back/ And normally I would just forget that/ Except for the fact it was my birthday/ My stupid birthday”) revs you up for a the kind of slightly dumb/ secretly clever tune you wish every pop song could be.
A White Chicks version of “Irreplaceable” or anything the ladies of En Vogue have done, “Potential Break-Up Song” aches to be a rallying female anthem, managing to strum up major drama out of that single thoughtless incident in order to justify kicking boyfriend to the curb. As disparate melodies fly all over the place (this is almost like four songs in one!), the meta-hook brings it all together in a way that would make Fall Out Boy proud (“This is the potential break-up song/ Our album needs just one”).
The only thing keeping this from being a bonafide winner is the fact that Aly & AJ don’t have the cojones to rough their voices up a bit or really lay on the guitars (Disney doesn’t want to scare the kiddies away too bad it seems). But with Kelly Clarkson’s deeper venture into rock leaving “Since U Been Gone” fans (and her record company) feeling a little cold, “Break-Up Song” conveniently fills the void for upbeat power-pop “I can do better all by myself”-type songs to pogo to. One pinky toe out the door from their ultra squeaky clean past, my bet is they’re only one album away from hooking up with Timbaland or BT and attempting some awkward, Pussycat Doll-influenced belly dancing in their videos.