There’s a special place in my heart for the juxtaposition of heartbreak lyrics set atop music that makes me want to dance around my apartment with a big ol’ stupid smile on my face. We all need songs like that in our lives. So imagine my excitement to hear indie/punk trio The Aquadolls deliver exactly that with their new single, “Cry Baby,” just in time for Valentine’s Day.
Since their inception in 2012, The Aquadolls have been an ever-evolving musical entity. Fronted by singer/songwriter Melissa Brooks, the group has continued to push themselves creatively in new directions with each release. “Cry Baby” is no exception to this rule. Recorded with Fat Mike of NOFX, the single sees the band yet again shaping a new sound for themselves as they pull away from the 1980s-influenced alternative rock tones present in their (excellent) 2018 record, The Dream and the Deception, and lean a little more toward the vibes of 2013’s Stoked on You.
Thematically, “Cry Baby” navigates a fan’s daydreaming as they trip over heart eyes for a guitarist on stage. The narrative develops at the moment they set eyes on their crush before quickly dropping down a rabbit hole of mixed signals, overthinking and confusion. It’s a medley of emotions likely all-to-familiar to anyone who’s ever been single for more than a minute. The hook of the chorus perfectly captures this sense of romantic limbo:
“This should be awesome, not a drag. I never know when I’m happy or sad. I’m just a crying Jag”
And still, in their multifaceted way, The Aquadolls seamlessly offset such bummer sentiments with a much sweeter tone fueled by upbeat, ’60s-pop-inspired riffs. This unexpected twist transforms the number into a notably lively experience that’s sure to be a massive hit for fans, both old and new, at their upcoming shows.
It’s easy to underappreciate the wonderful precision of the songwriting mixture behind “Cry Baby.” This blurring of lines between happy and sad is not an easy thing to pull off. It’s a careful balancing act—tip the scale too far in either direction and you lose the magic. Hitting the sweet spot that gets feet moving and hearts aching simultaneously takes skill.
It’s difficult not to find some degree of emotional catharsis in music written this way. Personally, I like to think of songs like this as being on a covert mission to sneak out bottled-up feelings. At first you might be too busy moving around to the music to notice what’s going on. But when you start to really listen to it, you start to make an emotional connection. And then you’re really hooked.
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Don’t get me wrong, sometimes we all need to watch the rain through the window as we listen to some Dido. After all, pretending to be in an early 2000s music video is one of the cheapest forms of therapy. But at the other end of that scale, sometimes you just need a soundtrack that’s lively and catchy. With this single, The Aquadolls welcomingly meet us smack in the middle to bring us the best of both worlds.
“Cry Baby” is out everywhere today. I implore you to find a spare couple of minutes to crank it up good and loud. You don’t have to dance around your home and shout lines of unrequited love toward the ceiling, but you’ll certainly feel better for it. Watch the music video below.