Review: Years and Years
Simon Fearn takes a look at Years and Years
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We’ve all heard the fabulous ‘King’, but Years & Years actually have more interesting dimensions than their chart friendly hit might suggest. ‘Foundation’ is an intense opener with hints of dubstep. ‘Real’,with its throbbing bass giving way to dreamy synthesisers in the chorus, is a melodrama about being on the pull in a club.The angular ‘Desire’ makes up for some bland lyrics with a jerky electronic riff, trendy vocal sampling in the chorus, and generous amounts of finger clicking. In terms of addictive melodies, ‘Communion’ does not disappoint either. The choruses of ‘Worship’ and ‘Ties’ could easily be listened to on repeat, whilst the bass riff of ‘Take Shelter’, plonking along with hints of danger, is an album highlight.
That said, there is unfortunately some truth to The Guardian’s damning judgement that the band don’t seem to have an original idea in their collective heads’. ‘Eyes Shut’ sounds like Sam Smith having an off day, a saccharine piano ballad lacking in emotional depth. ‘Memo’ shows off Alexander’s higher register, but his crooning on this rather limp track just sounds like your average heart-on-sleeve male vocalist.‘Worship’ and ‘Ties’, whilst being amongst my favourite tracks on the album, seem to have stolen their beats from embarrassing Noughties pop songs.
The trouble is, Years & Years are a little too polite, so much so that Q Magazine suggested they primarily appeal to the same audience as One Direction. Alexander’s vocals have a pristine, choir-boy-like quality, and when he tries to be seductive on ‘Worship’ it’s not terribly convincing. At times he comes across as awkwardly desperate to please the opposite sex, pleading on ‘Take Shelter’ ‘I’m shy, can I be what you like?’, and on ‘Memo’ ‘If I try my hardest, will you look my way?’ It’s endearing, but lacks any sense of danger. It’s not just Alexander that’s a little to prim and proper.
The synths are never let loose in the sort of gay abandon of dance floor hits. Songs like ‘Gold’ promise bigger choruses than they deliver, and some of the later tracks like ‘Without’ and ‘Border’ seem a bit half-hearted. The whole album could be improved by giving it a bit more welly. I’m not saying I didn’t enjoy ‘Communion’, and I can think of many worse ways to spend an hour of your life than listening to it. It’s just that you shouldn’t expect to have your musical horizons greatly expanded, or discover profound truths about human relationships.
As long as you only expect Years & Years to be a bit of fun, you won’t be disappointed.