Years & Years | Show Preview & Album Review
Written by joe on April 19, 2016
Years & Years is a synthpop trio from London, debuting their album Communion in 2015, and performing at Portland’s Roseland Theater on Thursday, April 28, 2016 at 8pm.
Trust me, you’ll want to.
This group is something special. The band consists of frontman and keyboard player Olly Alexander, bass guitarist Mikey Goldsworthy, and keyboardist Emre Türkmen. I hate referring to anyone as a frontman. I think every member of a group is essential to the band and brings something unique to compliment the rest. However, Olly Alexander is the exception to my rule and without a doubt steals the show. He understands his audience, and knows how to appeal to them. Olly has the ability to walk onto a stage in front of a screaming crowd and immediately strike silence and awe among them. That is, until the music picks up and Olly starts singing dancing around the stage. Lighting up the room and making his audience scream as he makes eye contact with every single fan and grins wildly at them. See the youtube video below of the band performing at the Reading Festival in 2015.
At Reading, it’s hard to make out the band; which leaves all the audience’s attention on Olly. Olly walks out to a screaming audience, excited for the spectacle they are about to see. Keeping his eyes down, not acknowledging the audience, he silences them with a captivating and powerful performance of Communion‘s album opener Foundation. Fans softly sing along as Olly’s voice billows and echoes through Reading, while soft red light dances across the stage and faces of the audience. The song ends, it goes dark, and the mood and atmosphere suddenly switches. Take Shelter kicks in, Olly screams to greet his audience, and the audience responds back erupting once more in screams as well. The rest of the show is exactly this. Olly conducts his audience with his glowing stage presence, soaring voice, and infamous dance moves. Only bringing things back down to deliver an emotional performance of Eye’s Shut with himself on the keyboard, and instantly changes pace with more of the band’s up-tempo songs. Finally, the band closes with a song that instantly makes every member in the audience dance and sing along (if they somehow weren’t doing so before) – the band’s most popular single King.
This is the perfect example of a Years & Years show, and this is what you can expect at the Roseland on April 28. Celebrating the release of their debut album Communion, the group is on a massive headlining tour – touring in the United States until the beginning of June, returning to do more shows in the UK and the rest of Europe, and finishing the tour in New Zealand and Australia in October. The band has performed on talk shows such as Jimmy Kimmel, Jools Holland, and Jimmy Fallon. This group gives this performance every time they walk onto a stage. This is a group that is devoted to their fans, love to play their songs to a crowd, and have the best time doing it. No matter where they are, what show it is, or how big or small the venue, Years & Years consistently delivers and strives to give their audience a memorable experience.
Years & Years Communion was released on July 10, 2015. Debuting at number 1 in the UK, and outselling the rest of the top 5 UK albums combined in the first week of release. The album sold over 1,000,000 copies worldwide and has taken up permanent residence in the UK top 20 – making it the fastest selling debut album in 2015 from a UK signed band.
Communion was an incredibly strong debut album for Years & Years, and has received positive reviews from a variety of critics. Notably, the album received a 7.4/10 from Pitchfork, and 4/5 stars from AllMusic. According to AllMusic, Years & Years “manage to artfully combine the ambient, ’80s style synth-pop of M83 with the funky dancefloor grooves of Justin Timberlake.” Pitchfork similarly describes the album as “reimagining ’80s and ’90s club-pop,” further stating the group “attains a kind of formal loveliness not witnessed in this genre since Madonna’s Get Together almost a decade ago.”
My quick no BS review is along the same lines as Pitchfork and AllMusic: I’m in love with this album and give it a 4/5.
I believe this band put out an incredible debut album, and joins my collection of favorite debuts such as: The Killers’ Hot Fuss, Walk the Moon’s Walk the Moon, CHVRCHES’ The Bones of What You Believe, Pvris’ White Noise, The 1975’s The 1975, and Angels & Airwaves’ We Don’t Need to Whisper.
The range and diversity of this album is incredible, from the first song you know this album will be something special. Some of the songs are supported by Olly’s soulful, powerful, and floating voice backed by simple, yet atmospheric and immersive, instrumentals from Mikey and Emre. The results are songs like Foundation, Eye’s Shut, Memo, and Without. All extremely captivating songs, mastered and mixed so well that Olly’s melodies and ballads are perfectly complimented by the rest of the sounds curtesy of Mikey and Emre. These are songs listeners can’t help but be completely mesmerized by. Not only are the lyrics well written, but Olly’s vocal style further deepens the songs, creating a song full of raw emotion and overwhelming feelings.
Just like their live shows, the album switches tone and sound immediately with tracks such as Shine, King, Desire, and Gold. Pitchfork and AllMusic couldn’t have said it better, these are songs reminiscent of explosive pop songs from the 80’s and 90’s. Songs created for blasting through your best set of speakers, and singing along loudly as you dance around your room. These are songs that instantly made it to my summer playlists. Playlists I use to drive around to with my windows down, stereo so loud any car and pedestrian passing by can clearly make out the song, and that I am dangerously singing and awkwardly shuffle-dancing along to in my car.
My three favorite tracks on this album are Shine, Memo, and Without. You can find them on the various links I’ve included below, or listen through my podcast where I played Communion as a whole. Minus a song or two. Simply listen by using the player at the top of the page, or by clicking the ‘Click here to download’ near the bottom of the page to download and stream the podcast.
This is an album that will leave you hungry for more. I can’t fully describe my love for Communion, and my excitement as I eagerly wait for more music from Years & Years. This album is a huge accomplishment, and it’s both intriguing and extremely exciting to see how the band will follow up their already superb debut album.
-Written by Joe (DJ J-Bøp) of KPSU’s ‘All the Singles, Ladies’