The best descriptor for Aly & AJ’s musical output this decade is “cathartic.” Catharsis is what drives many listeners — either consciously or not — to keep coming back to and resonate with music; to have a sound that is so emotionally resonate is a luxury few artists are afforded. On Sanctuary, the follow-up to 2017’s Ten Years and its 2018 repackaging, the duo build upon the eighties excellence of the latter and shape it into five tracks that feel a bit more accessible. By including more modern flourishes like triplets and vocodered vocals, Aly & AJ have crafted a decidedly timeless and anthemic collection of tracks.
The record flows like a novel, opening with the confession that is “Church;” allowing listeners as much as themselves to drop their guard, it’s a perfect beginning to an EP about finding safety. “Don’t Go Changing” follows, pleading that no one takes away your shine, which leads beautifully into the topical and #MeToo-inspired “Star Maps.” After declaring “now [they’re] on fire” and not being ready to wake up from their deserved revenge fantasy, the sisters conclude with the title track — a heartfelt thank you to their fans for standing by them since they burst onto the scene in 2005. Giving themselves over completely to the people that made their careers possible, Sanctuary is one of the most sincere odes to fans I’ve ever heard, further cementing Aly & AJ’s status as one of the best acts to come out of the Disney machine.
Standout tracks: “Church,” “Sanctuary”