“Stranger” by ACES

ACES’ have recently shared their debut Stranger EP ,officially out everywhere worldwide. The EP is comprised of three singles that convey her cinematic tone more evocatively than anything she’s done before, and follows on the heels of her critically-acclaimed string of singles from the past two years.

ACES’ sound is downtempo pop music on muscle relaxers, highlighted by bassy backing tracks with sparse beats that take a backseat to Stewart’s daydreaming vocals. But to really define ACES, we need to go outside the idiom: ACES is a muted light, a French new wave film projected at half speed, a night in with a few friends and heady cocktails.

The music of ACES isn’t a collection of tracks; it’s a gateway to a worldview, one face of a meticulously defined aesthetic. When we listen to it, we find ourselves living for a few minutes with the creator, Alex Stewart, in the world she’s built for us.

ACES can be described in musical terms, of course. It’s hazy, downtempo; it’s pop music on muscle relaxers. It’s a bassy backing track and sparse beats that take a back seat to Stewart’s daydreaming vocals on a song like “If I Could Be Your Girl,” the lead single from ACES’ debut EP, Stranger. But to really define ACES, we need to go outside the idiom. ACES is a muted light. A French new wave film projected at half speed. A night in with a few friends and heady cocktails.

ACES, too, is defined as Alex: The Canadian born, Brooklyn artist is the voice and direction of the project, which takes its name from her initials. A film editor who often works alongside her filmmaker husband, Stewart borrows as much from the vocabulary and structure of that art as she does traditional songwriting.

Produced by Ian Miller, ACES built songs that convey her cinematic tone more evocatively than anything she’s done before. The songs on ACES’ Stranger EP can be seen as acts or vignettes, meditations on romantic thoughts and attachments. But love is never easy, and attachments just as often come alongside detachment. Perhaps the obstacles themselves are in fact what’s romantic about it.

As a writer and musician, Stewart may be seen as a master of stagecraft as much as songcraft. It’s more than a technique; it’s a manifestation of the world she’s creating around her. She builds ACES for herself, but invites the rest of us in.