Years & Years’ Upward Trajectory
Following the career of the electro-pop trio ‘Years & Years’ has become a personal hobby of mine. From their first single release ‘Traps’ back in 2013, to supporting Sam Smith on his sold out UK tour, to a number one hit ‘King’, and topping it all off, being named BBC Sound of the Year 2015.
Their success has been largely due to their distinctive and refined mixture that extends into uncharted waters of the synth pop genre, by incorporating Dance and R&B. Together Olly Alexander’s serenading falsetto with instrumentalists Micheal Goldsworthy and Emre Turkman still remain within the British electronic scene and yet have managed to differentiate themselves from the standard pop model. While, Years & Years are ‘catchy’ in their own right, Y & Y’s unmatched and refreshing sound will leave listeners surprised to find themselves addicted for all-new reasons.
‘Foundation’ as the first track of the album sets the tone by focusing on Olly Alexander’s tender vocals. Through a slowly accelerating and pulsing electronic background Alexander’s voice expresses a form of longing through the lyric: “You used to work me out/But you never worked it out for me”.
The tracks ‘Desire’ and ‘Worship’ hinge upon that very theme of yearning that is found throughout the album, without forgetting lyrics such as: “Is it desire? Or love that I am feeling for you/I want desire, because your love keeps getting me abused” and “I hope you never know, why I need your control”. Both tracks breakout to resemble a fast paced ’90s dance record fashioned by Goldworthy and Turkman’s synth craftsmanship. While ‘Desire’ upholds a heavier dose of background chorus, adding a complex and chaotic element to the song.
The record ‘King’ plays off the same complexity and as a single have served Years and Years very well, including being named Zane Lowe’s Hottest Record of the Day. ‘King’ bases itself on an upbeat and discotheque core that appeals with its listeners as an exacerbated vocal: “I was a king under your control” repeats among side an electrified chants. ‘Gold’ takes on similar characteristics as another disco-bop and powerful background chorus accompanying Alexander’s voice.
Meticulously timed, Years and Years released songs on their social media for the past year in anticipation of their forthcoming album ‘Communion’. ‘Real’ and ‘Take Shelter’ were amongst the first tracks, and still to this day provide that extra personality to the rest of the album. They both revolve around interesting and dynamic rhythmic choices and synthesized sounds that are perfectly paired with the vocals. ‘Real’ yields a clear clapping beat and airy feel, while ‘Take Shelter’ withstands a stronger hold on its intermingling keyboard and ricocheted synths.
‘Memo’ and ‘Eyes Shut’ expresses moments of vulnerability and brings about a slower pace, changing from the rapidness found in the rest of the album. Both tracks begin with a piano introduction resembling a Sam Smith-esque quality, but quickly transcend into all too familiar Y & Y essence. The two ballads express heart-wrenching lyrics: “Let me take your heart/love you in the dark/no one has to see/I want more, I want more” and “Nothing is going to hurt with me with my eyes shut/I can see through them” as Alexander’s voice transcends into a sweeter and higher pitched quality.
For the Deluxe album of ‘Communion’ listeners can expect an acoustic piano version of ‘King’ truly radiating Alexander’s vocals proving that he is the group’s primary weapon in defining their sound and other tracks like ‘Ready for You’ that provides a raw behind the scene look into their album.
‘Communion’ is the embodiment of Years & Years efforts to diverge from the competition that is the British music scene, but to remain close enough to endure as a viable contender. While many may argue that Y & Y remain under the mundane ‘catchy’ pop genre, their successful synth pop and ’90s dance hybrid equipped with Alexander’s unique vocals have entitled them the right to be crowned as the Kings of 2015.
Communion comes out July 10.