Review: “Communion” Has Us Dancing For Years & Years

Years & Years

Our Rating

RIYL: Michael Jackson, Frank Ocean, The 1975, Disclosure, Sir Sly

Fans of 1980s club music and electronic rock, rejoice! Finally, a modern band has gone one step further than The 1975 in reviving the best parts of the 1980s (no, not Guns N’ Roses or Poison) while giving them a twenty-first century treatment. If you worship the likes of Michael Jackson or Frank Ocean, then you will absolutely love The UK’s Years & Years and their brand-new debut album, Communion (out 7/10/2015 via Interscope RecordsPolydor Records).

Communion - Years & YearsBeat-driven club music never felt so indie. Indie music never felt so clubby. Consider “Worship,” an uptempo trip-hop adventure of secret love and one of Communion’s more notable tracks. Years & Years spare no expense in creating a sexually-charged environment that combines the best of dance music’s past with electronic music’s present. Whirring backgrounds keyboards and synthesized electric vocals create aural patterns that fit on top of each other like a patchwork. The orgy of sounds culminate in an aggressive, passionate chorus that’s sure to make the hairs on your stand up:

I worship, high praises
My longing drives me crazy for you
My kingdom for your graces
I’m not gonna tell nobody
I’m not gonna tell nobody bout you

Listen: “Worship” – Years & Years

Shimmering keyboards, high, echoing male vocals, and bouncing bass beats: This is what twenty-first century teenybopper music sounds like, and these are the three lads that so many Brits have already gone gaga for: Frontman and keyboardist Olly Alexander, bassist Mikey Goldsworthy, and synth player Emre Turkmen form the trio that is Years & Years. The mid-twenty-somethings look like they came straight out of a Topman advert, and their music is of the electro-dance pop-rock ilk to likely be played over the in-store monitors.

In fact, it’s probably already there. Though still rising starlets in the United States, Years & Years have achieved considerable fame in the UK, where their single “King” rose to the Number 1 chart position in early March and where their song “Shine” debuted at the Number 2 chart position in early July. They debuted their music in the US via the four-track Y&Y EP, garnering attention and excitement with catchy songs like the “Desire” and the sultry “Take Shelter.” Similar to The 1975’s history, Years & Years have multiple independently-released EPs to their name, and the majority of songs off their debut full-length come from their catalog of previous releases.

Years & Years

Listen: “Shine” – Years & Years

 

2014 saw a steady rise in notability, and 2015 brought the explosion: This is clearly no band to be messed with. Years & Years are doing with Communion what Passion Pit did six years ago with Manners, yet in a more radio-friendly, pop-oriented manner: It’s a complete game-changer. The mix of 1980s-inspired pop beats and electro-house overtones with electronic rock elements creates a merging of two unlikely genres.

Yet that doesn’t faze the Years & Years. They thrive off their own eclecticism. The exciting union of genres shines bright across the album, though Communion’s diversity can be best exemplified by tracks like the beating “Border,” the intense “Ties,” and the ballad-esque “Eyes Shut.” Though varied, these songs retain a crucial musical identity that ties them all back to not only Years & Years, but also the Communion album as a whole.

Equally notable is Years & Years’ profound musicianship. The band’s highly-technical, synchronized dance music has to be forever on-point, which it certainly is on record. The band excel at developing full soundscapes with high highs, low lows, and big builds.

While most songs focus outwardly on love and relationships (“King,” “Worship” and “Shine”), Years & Years know another form of intimacy as well. They display their inner beauty perhaps best on “Eyes Shut,” a song whose empowering lyrics ache with the memory of the UK’s previous pop-star heart-throbs, One Direction.

Oh it’s brighter this time
This type of mine
This disguise
Oh you talk to me
Nothing’s gonna hurt me with my eyes shut
I can see through them
I can see through them
I am drawing pictures I’m evading
I will not use them
I will not use them
Again

Years & Years

Listen: “Kings” – Years & Years

The lyrics are cheesy and simple, but also honest and sweet. Years & Years don’t have the same technical songwriting prowess as The 1975 or the pop excellence of One Direction, and they don’t need it. They’re doing just fine with the tools they have at their disposal, and if you’re caught off guard, you just might be seduced by them.

Don’t be fooled by Years & Years: They’re young and party-ready.

And that is ultimately what makes Communion so much fun to listen to. Years & Years are a young band in their twenties, and their effervescence bleeds deeply into their music. The single-word track names reveal the nature of Communion, which is to embrace the full, immersive musical narrative rather than a literary thread or specific storyline. Of course, this is only the band’s first full-length record. Years & Years have time to grow and fully blossom – not that it’s really holding them back right now. Their focus has been on creating a sonic identity that is all their own, and they have succeeded magnificently!

Check out Years & Years: This is the kind of band who will lift you up when you’re feeling blue, get you on your feet when all you wanted to do was sit down, and whisk you into a head-bobbing frenzy at one in the morning (when you didn’t know you could move your head anymore). The best part is that you won’t regret a single thing. Whether it’s a fast-paced, heart-pumping trip-hop number or a slower, chillwave song you’re after, Communion’s got you covered. Electro-infused R&B with deep grooves and a modern architecture capture the moment in music where past and present meet in a glorious reunion. The jury is out: Communion will have us dancing for Years & Years.

:: Years & Years fall tour dates are as follows ::

09/14  Toronto, ON             Danforth Music Hall
09/16  New York, NY           Terminal 5
09/18  Philadelphia, PA       Union Transfer
09/19  Washington, DC       9:30 Club
09/22  Chicago, IL               Park West
09/23  Minneapolis, MN     Varsity Theatre
09/25  Denver, CO              Gothic Theatre
09/28  San Francisco, CA   The Fillmore
09/29  San Diego, CA          North Park
09/30  Los Angeles, CA      The Wiltern

The Breakdown

Mitch Mosk

Mitch is the Editor-in-Chief of Atwood Magazine and a 2014 graduate from Tufts University, where he pursued his passions of music and psychology. He currently works at Universal Music Group in New York City. In his off hours, Mitch may be found songwriting, wandering about one of New York's many neighborhoods, or writing an article on your next favorite artist for Atwood. Mitch's words of wisdom to fellow musicians and music lovers are thus: Keep your eyes open and never stop exploring. No matter where you go, what you do or who you are with, you can always learn something new and inspire something amazing. Say hi here: mitch[at]atwoodmagazine[dot]com