In the weeks leading up to Years And Years’ album release date, I was preparing myself to jump straight into this review the second I had finished listening to Communion in full. But, it didn’t happen. In fact, it has taken me just over a week to sit down and type this all out, purely because I’ve not managed to pull myself away from the clutches of Olly Alexander’s voice just yet.
For many of us in our late teens/early twenties, we had heard King everywhere; we were lapping up the catchy feel good tune and vocal runs, but we had no idea of the faces behind the music. It wasn’t until Years and Years hit the number one spot in the charts that their identities came to light, and boy were we shocked when we saw Olly Alexander’s face. Flashes of the Channel 4 teen hit drama Skins – that the majority of us grew up with – came flooding back. In the very last series, front man of Years and Years Olly Alexander played Jakob “the stalker”, making it immediately clear to everyone that this band is comprised of members with a multitude of talents.
So, who are Years and Years? Lead Singer Olly Alexander, Bassist Mikey Goldsworthy and Synth Player Emre Turkmen. Together the trio make Synthpop that is undeniably some of the best pop music since (dare I say it) Lady Gaga hit the music scene. The music that Years And Years create is new and exciting. It comes to life on stage, but also works well acoustically. The vocals are incredible, and the lyrics have substance. All those components in a modern day pop song are actually a rarity these days, but Years And Years have managed to put together a whole album’s worth of these tracks.
Track 01 – Foundation The opening song on Communion titled Foundation isn’t what I was expecting. It is surprisingly mellow and dark sounding with heavy synth and harmonies. Olly Alexander’s voice is constantly at the forefront of this 2:58 minute long song, telling a story of possible cheating in a relationship? ‘There’s a scratch on your shoulder, crushes me like, crushes me like that.’ ‘ All the things I want I really shouldn’t get.”You used to work me out but you never worked it out for me.’ Are just some of the lyrics about an obviously rocky relationship. Foundation is a simple but exposing song for the band and it shows off their talent and makes way for some busier songs on the album. Track 02 – Real Real eases you into the Years And Years sound that we were all introduced to back in March. Ridden with hand claps and tempo changes that shouldn’t work well together but really do, you can imagine hearing this in a London club with accompanying flashing lights and questionable dance moves. Olly sings ‘What have I been doing wrong? Tell me what it is you want.’ Perfect for that brazen drink fueled mood you often find yourself in on a night out. Track 03 – Shine The latest release from Years And Years that is being played on every radio station and music channel is up next on the album. An honest, affectionate story of love and the feelings you first experience when you find somebody that changes things for the better. ‘It’s you that I’ve been waiting to find.’ I like to think that this song was written about Olly and his boyfriend, Clean Bandit’s very own Milan Neil Amin – Smith as I’m in no way apologetic about the fact that I believe them to be one of the most adorable couples I have ever seen. Track 04 – Take Shelter Keeping in theme with the feel good anthems, Take Shelter has an almost beach holiday vibe … Imagine Luna by Bombay Bicycle Club with synth and House influences. Track 05 – Worship Sounds like someone has plucked a good pop song out of the 90’s and, for want a better comparison; has done a massive ‘Pimp My Ride’ on it (Yes, I am hating myself just as much as you are right now for even daring to say that.) It’s just what you need for the Summer time, it’s a catchy pop song without all the cheese. One that you can totally indulge in, guilt free. Track 06 – Eyes Shut Is the stand out tune for me on Years and Years’ debut album for so many reasons, it’s a slower song with not much synth … mainly piano and finger snaps. Olly’s voice is stunning as he goes in and out of falsetto with a few vocal runs. The lyrics are heartwarming and uplifting, the song has quite a church choir feel to it so it stands out merely on that factor. I could listen to it on loop all day. Also featuring on the album are Track 07 – Ties Which sounds like it could be on a movie soundtrack with it’s deeper sounds and Olly’s seductive tones, I hear this track and feel like danger is around the corner. Track 08 – King The first few seconds of this song fills you with excitement as it’s the first time we heard Years and Years, subsequently falling hopelessly in love with the band. I challenge any of you to get to this song on the album without your eyes widening and a smile creeping across your face. You are simply denying yourself if you don’t get up and dance to King every single time you hear it. Are they pan pipes I hear? Did I just listen to a glockenspiel? I don’t know, I don’t care … it’s a work of art and it makes me feel good. The last few tunes to finish the album are as follows : Track 09 – Desire, Track 10 – Gold, Track 11 – Without, Track 12 – Border and Track 13 – Memo I would have loved nothing more than to talk about every song on this album but I think you’d all want to end me. The truth of it is that Communion by Years And Years is one huge hit, every track is consistent with it’s quality and ability to be a top ten charter. The work that has gone into creating this album is obvious and it goes to show that pop music is not a thing of the past, it’s not something to be ashamed of enjoying and it doesn’t have to be ‘crap’ if it falls under that umbrella.
For me personally, Years and Years translate their album incredibly on stage. Olly Alexander who usually looks so quiet, just beams positivity up on stage; he dances just as you would at a party hearing Communion for the first time, and the stage lighting and live synthesizer take everything to a whole new level. I urge you to all purchase the deluxe version of this album, just so you can treat yourselves to the acoustic of King. Sometimes all the production can distract from just how insanely talented the trio are. There’s absolutely no doubting how far their ability stretches in this version of their number one song.
Communion has had me hooked from the moment it was released, and my love for them has grown. Apart from everything they are giving us musically at the moment, they also seem to have come into the public eye with strong messages of positivity. It’s rare that I go a day following the band members – mainly Olly – on social media without seeing a reminder to spread love. They also waved the flag high on Gay Pride this year. We’ve had so many females in the industry do this recently, but not so many men, and especially not 2 men in separate groups in the public eye that want to speak openly and be role models.
We need everything that this group are about right now, we need Emre, we need Mikey, we need Olly… We need Years and Years, and we absolutely need Communion right now.
Get Communion from iTunes now.
Review by Aimee Thompson