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Music Years and Years

Published on August 10th, 2018 | by voxx

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Years and Years – Palo Santo

Despite ironing out the idiosyncrasies, the trio’s follow-up hits the target…

On their 2015 debut album Communion, Years & Years specialised in slightly skew-whiff pop songs; catchy choruses piped over subtle tapestries of heady electronica. On its follow-up, they’ve cut back the intricate undergrowth, clearing the path for a pure pop bullseye.

To that end, founding members Mikey Goldsworthy and Emre Türkmen have been largely relieved of songwriting duties, and top-tier hitmakers (Julia Michaels, Justin Tranter, Steve Mac) enlisted in their place. The result sounds a lot like the pop status quo, with frontman Olly Alexander alternately resembling a more literate Justin Bieber and a less whiny Shawn Mendes.

Yet lack of singularity doesn’t prevent Palo Santo from being entirely disarming – in fact, the more conventional the track, the more gratifying it tends to be. Cases in point include ‘All For You’, which puts pop’s ubiquitous “oh-oh-oh” whoop to a corking chorus, and ‘Hallelujah’, whose tropical house palette includes a surprisingly lovable pan flute synth. Alexander’s percipient lyrics, which decipher romance’s eye-watering thrills, give the record some bite – as, ironically, do nods to once-again-hip, turn-of-the-millennium manufactured pop (the boyband R&B of ‘Karma’; the mechanical crispness of ‘Sanctify’).

Years & Years currently seem unconcerned with idiosyncrasy and edge, but it’s hard to mind when they’ve hit a pop spot this sweet.

- By Jake White


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