YEARS & YEARS
Despite ironing out the idiosyncrasies, trio’s follow-up hits the target.
After three years away, can the trio follow up their excellent debut?
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, turnof-the-millennium manufactured pop (the boy-band R&B of Karma; Sanctify’s mechanical crispness). Years & Years currently seem unconcerned with idiosyncrasy and edge, but it’s hard to mind when they’ve hit a pop spot this sweet. ★★★★ RACHEL AROESTI
Listen To: All For You | Karma | Rendezvous
The more conventional the track, the more gratifying it tends to be.