Years & Years emerged into the spotlight at the beginning of the year when they were awarded the “BBC Sound Of 2015 Award” and with the spiraling success of “King” they have quickly taken over the airwaves and topped the charts. Hailing from London this electronic three piece have delivered one of the most anticipated pop records of the year which is guaranteed to continue this success story. “Communion” is a mainly pop affair with an indie approach on the production and cool electronic synths that dominate the beats. The sound is very reminiscent to 90’s disco-pop sighting major influences from that music era. This is not your typical pop record that has songs about getting drunk and partying until the early hours of the morning. If you are hoping for those sort of tracks then you probably should move on now. Lead singer Olly Alexander takes you on an emotional rollercoaster with his open approach to songwriting. He writes about the relationships he’s been in, the guys that have broken his heart and the insecurities he has felt, making this one very relatable album. “If I had been enough for you would I be better, would I be good and I’ll do what you like if you stay the night”.
The album perfectly opens with the mellow “Foundation” which has a slight dubstep influence in the production and introduces the listener to the soothing and tantalizing range of Olly’s vocals. My personal favourite “Real” delivers the first pure bop and sees the band experimenting with pace and synths while giving us a retro 90’S RNB/pop sound. And the infectious pop tracks don’t stop there with “Shine”, “Take Shelter”, “Desire” and the gospel felt “Worship” giving you some standout moments. When listening to the album in its entirety “Gold” stood out as a major contender for best track on the album. From its groovy chorus, to the perfected production the song gives you a momentous feeling and you can’t help but want to let go and just dance along. “And if I turn my back and I leave it all and I’ll be running fast cause I can’t be owned, oh like gold”. One thing Years & Years also deliver well on this debut release is some beautiful ballads. “Eyes Shut” is a goosebump worthy piano ballad that was featured as a B-side on their EP “Real” and for the album this song has undergone a MAJOR facelift with the addition of strings and gospel clicks. “Nothing’s gonna hurt me with my eyes shut. I can see through them”. The extra layer of texture for this track is perfect and takes the song to a whole new level of emotion. “Without” has already became a fan favourite and with Olly’s soaring vocals in the chorus you can’t help but be entranced by this song. “You can’t hate me now, I’ll be gone and I’ll be with or without you”. One song that stood out to me with its raw emotion and vulnerability was “Memo” which had very minimalistic production and relied on the listener’s connection with Olly and the lyrics. “Are you gonna hurt, are you gonna burn? Answer me. Let me take your heart, love you in the dark, no one has to see”. With a duration spanning 13 songs it’s no surprise there are two tracks that are snore-worthy and may need the skip button. Compared to the rest of the album “Ties” and “Border” don’t bring any new or monumental ideas with production that sounds exhausted.
The deluxe edition offers four bonus tracks that may or may not be worth it. “1977” bores with its repetitive sound while “I Want To Love” is 80’s tinged and great to bop along to but is forgettable. “Ready For You” (Acoustic) is incredible and will have you entranced with Olly’s raw vocals and questioning lyrics. “Would you lead me on and would you start me over? I’m ready to be torn apart, would you break my heart? Well I would give it over, I’m ready to be torn apart”. An acoustic version of “King” perfectly wraps the album with a beautiful new light to the song that I almost prefer over the big pop number.
The one criticism I have about “Communion” is the majority of the songs have already been released on previous EP’s and have featured in their live set over the year so the element of surprise was lacking. But as a collection of tracks Years & Years deliver pop and synth gems that will be the soundtrack of your summer.