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Track Review

The last time we checked in with sister duo Aly & AJ, they were bouncing back from a decade-long hiatus with their 80s-themed EP, Ten Years, which featured the vampire-themed video "Take Me." Two years later, they’re still clinging to the coattails of those retro vibes with their latest single, “Church.”

Synth-poppy “Church” finds the sisters singing about their sins and, perhaps, seeking redemption for them. But it's not clear from the song that they're quite ready to leave all those of sins behind.

Take Me to Church?

“I do bad things for the sake of good times,” the sisters confess quite bluntly in the song's opening line. And at this point, it doesn't seem that they really care too much about those "bad things": "I don't, I don't regret/Yeah, I'm in it for the thrill/I'm just, I'm just selfish."

As for what some of those "bad" things are, Aly and AJ give a couple of examples: lying (“Can't you see it on my face?/I get caught in every lie”) and engaging in self-centered and emotionally damaging flings (“Too many nights I justify/All my casualties of love”).

But though they might seem hard-hearted, the sisters also admit, "I need redemption/For sins I can't mention." There's a recognition that past wrongs can't be undone ("For all the times I can't reverse") and an admission of deep pain that their selfish behavior can't cure ("For all the places where it hurts"), as well as this example of self-awareness: "I can't even stop to take care of my own self/Let alone anybody else."

So where does someone turn in such moments? "I need a little church," the sisters repeatedly say.

What Does 'Church' Mean?

The song could be heard as suggesting that "church" is a place of healing, a place for a fresh start. And in a March 29, 2019, statement to iHeartRadio about the song's meaning, Aly and AJ said something pretty similar to that:

"This song is about redemption and coming to terms with looking honestly at the aftermath of making bad decisions that hurt those close to you. 'Church' lives in the space just before getting back to your roots after losing your way. A moment of rebirth. We all have our version of 'Church,' the body of people that represent our best hopes and values, whether that's family, faith groups, dear friends, or a place or landscape that feels like home."

Taken at face value, that sounds like a pretty positive message. And if you look past moments in this song where they seem blasé about their sinful choices, you can hear that theme in this song, too.

But …

About That Video

The song's video seems much more interested in indulging sensuality and suggestive imagery than it does showing us what it looks like to leave misbehavior behind.

From wearing stunning suits to daring dresses to, well, nothing at all, these sisters strip for the sake of “art” in a mansion in Los Angeles. As they prance around the house, they caress one another tenderly (and creepily), lie naked and sing of their regrets. One woman's bare backside is visible, while a black bar covers breast nudity. Several scenes show gloved hands—clearly not their own—pawing at their torsos as well.

I suppose some might argue that it's necessary to get naked to make an artistic point. But it’s not necessary, and there is no point in a video that objectifies Aly and AJ Michalka much more than it showcases their desire for redemption.

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Record Label

Aly & AJ Music LLC




March 29, 2019

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