Years & Years

Palo Santo

Polydor/Interscope

Jul 24, 2018 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


Find It At: AMAZON

It's no coincidence Years & Years' second album arrived on the eve of London's Pride weekend. Pride in sexuality is a recurring theme on Palo Santo, tying together a bold and adventurous new record which draws inspiration from reggaetón, Stevie Wonder-esque pop-soul, and 2000s R&B.

Lead singer Olly Alexander has not hidden his sexuality in the past, but he was not as direct on their debut as he is here and this freedom leads to sharper, more insightful lyrics. On album opener "Sanctify," Alexander tells a classic story of a man struggling to understand his sexuality. The twist is that this time he is the seducer, convincing his partner to embrace his desires.

The sense of new-found confidence and freedom extends to the album's experiments with other genres; hints of drum & bass appear on the title-track and the laser-focused dance-pop of "Hallelujah" marks the group as students of Michael Jackson. Palo Santo is not a major reinvention of Years & Years' sound, so the influence of '80s synth-pop remains. However, it is a clear upgrade; one that is noticeably more ambitious and fully-realized than its predecessor.

Most impressively, while Palo Santo jumps between genres, it is surprisingly cohesive. These songs are best heard as an album and they reinforce one another in context. This is not a self-consciously arty departure for Years & Years. They are still a pop group at heart and this record sells itself primarily on its hooks, which are plentiful.

From the playful swing of "Karma" to the bouncy, acidic "If You're Over Me," Years & Years make great pop look easy. Anyone who's listened to mainstream radio will know how rare it is. For that reason alone, Palo Santo should be celebrated as one of the year's most surprisingly excellent releases. (www.yearsandyears.com)

Author rating: 8/10

Rate this album
Average reader rating: 9/10



Comments

Submit your comment

Name Required

Email Required, will not be published

URL

Remember my personal information
Notify me of follow-up comments?

Please enter the word you see in the image below:

There are no comments for this entry yet.