Earlier this year, the bombastic hit King was released, by British promise of 2015, Years & Years. I immediately liked the song: it was catchy, full of synthesizer beats and an attractive melody. As almost all of my peers would do, I searched the band on Youtube and watched the video clip. The first thing popping into my head was this: “Hey! Isn’t that the guy from Penny Dreadful?!” The terrifying scene of a young vampire crawling over the floor, with blood in his eyes and on his chin, screaming and crying, played vividly before my eyes. I scraped away the horror make-up and there it was: Years & Years had used the same actor for their video clip, how funny!
Well, think again. Olly Alexander, the actor mentioned before, is the front-man of Years & Years. Together with multi-instrumentalists Michael Goldsworthy and Emre Turkman, they became the next big thing almost over-night. The young trio from London was even awarded with the prestigious BBC Sound Of… award, which is distributed every year to an artist that “defined” the sound of that specific year. Apparently, 2015 is the year of Years & Years.
I will tell you the verdict right away: their sound may be that of 2015, but is not new or refreshing or original: with “Communion”, Years & Years delivered something that has been done before, at least a 1,000 times. The album draws perfectly and precisely within the lines of the Sound of 2015 colouring picture: decent, with synthesizer beats and a boyish voice singing love-drunk lyrics. Teenage hipster girls will undoubtedly swoon over Olly Alexander’s high-pitched voice, soaked with yearning, melancholia and undisclosed desires.
But let me tell you a secret. I am a sucker for this kind of music.
From the mysterious opening track, Foundation, past hits King and Take Shelter, to the final track of the album, Memo, I seriously enjoy listening to “Communion”. Foundation is meant to seduce you into listening the rest of the album and in my case, it definitely worked. With its cold synth sounds and soft beats, it is one of my favorite tracks on the album. They might not be original, but the songs are still really catchy, especially songs like Real, Shine, Worship and Desire. This while other songs are more ballad-like, with toned-down beats and piano tunes, such as Eyes Shut and Without.
Years & Years stick to the exact same formula we already listed to with King. It is a good formula, but there is not enough of it to actually surprise listeners. “Communion” is a very decent album, but perhaps if Olly and his consorts dared to think outside of the box, they would have come up with some more original tracks.
If you are, just like me, a sucker for decent, easy and simple electro-pop and swoon-worthy lyrics, you will enjoy Years & Years’ debut album, “Communion”. For those who cannot appreciate such simplicities, it is excruciatingly boring.