Fewer bands have been surrounded by as much of a buzz in 2015 as Years & Years have. Already boasting a number one single and BBC’s Sound of 2015 award, as well as the fact that singles such as Desire and King have already become staples in any summer playlist, it’s fair to say that the London-based trio have a lot to live up to with their debut release.
Communion is an album that truly highlights Years & Years’ originality above everything else, with influences from 90s dance and R&B lacing every track. Album highlight Worship is based around the former while Eyes Shut instantly modernises the latter by accompanying it with synth chords. The lads also seem to specialise in straight-up club bangers, especially tracks like Real, which features pulsing hand claps and foot stomps over Y&Y’s probably soon-to-be trademark dreamy synth accompaniments, which is a truly refreshing take on dance music. The band also have a huge asset in the form of singer Olly Alexander, whose incredible tone and range ends up carrying a lot of the songs on the record. It takes a lot of forms throughout Communion’s thirteen tracks, from swooping and soaring in pitch on Worship to staying rather one dimensional for the most part of album opener Foundation, but is still irresistibly captivating the whole way through.
However, Communion does leave a lot to be desired as a lot of the album seems to be rather half baked. Tracks that start off promisingly like Take Shelter and the aforementioned Real fail to pack as much of a punch as expected from their choruses, which is rather disappointing when King especially is known for its arena sized chorus. Some inclusions are boring throughout overall but display elements that are incredibly interesting and catchy such as Border, which is rather flat but has a post-chorus hook which will be stuck in your head for days. But some tracks are simply ludicrous. Gold sounds like a Eurovision entry, and you wouldn’t be far off by mistaking awful album closer Memo for Sam Smith with a synth backing.
Despite this, not everything to say about Communion is negative, and there are some moments of pure gold in the tracklisting. It is clear impossible not to dance to mega-hit Desire or be drawn in by the slow building Foundation. It is gorgeous new single Shine, however, where the formula Years & Years have works the best. Alexander’s voice soars over ecstatic synths, and it is truly difficult not to get lost in the track’s dreaminess. But Communion‘s biggest downfall is that too many of these songs have potential to become hits and are not there already, and the songs that are are nowhere near as common. Despite the success of their singles thus far, it is a disappointment that they are mostly Communion‘s standout tracks. It’s clear that Years & Years have a long way to go to prove that they’ll be around for years and years to come.
For fans of: Clean Bandit, Blonde, Sigma
Words by Georgia Jackson
‘Communion’ by Years & Years is out now on Polydor.