It’s been a while since I’ve reviewed an album (or EP, in this case) that was exclusively upbeat, exuberant electronic pop, and that needs to change. When English indie music trio Years & Years released their single “King” back in January, I was absolutely starstruck. I was ecstatic when their Y & Y EP was released this month, and I was pleased by what I heard. The four song record showcases the best of the band and their broad skill sets in the terms of vocals, rhythm, and instrumentation. Frontman Olly Alexander is the main attraction throughout the EP, and his vocals are incendiary among the colorful, upbeat background that is the synth and beats provided by Mikey Goldsworthy and Emre Turkmen. “Desire” is fast, furious, and absolutely addictive. The beats are bouncy, the synths tight and clean, and the vocals are stunning. It’s a strong opener, and it leads remarkably well into track “Take Shelter,” a more funky, minimal sounding beat that’s reminiscent of Glass Animals. Alexander’s voice morphs and changes with each track of the album, going everywhere from brooding to an almost falsetto. It houses that quintessential indie feeling without that overly sappy and obviously-dance-pop attachment that other electronic dance music sometimes comes with. The only part where the band somewhat loses me is in their slower, more introspective track “Memo,” where I feel that it didn’t match the rest of the album in tone. They take some more experimental risks with synth and overlays, which I have to give credit for, but in this case just didn’t mesh as well as I had hoped. However, the absolute gem in this EP is the amazing track “King,” which gives the best that Years & Years has to offer. The shimmering, glittering synth clears the path for a beautiful drum beat that perfectly merges with Alexander’s gorgeous voice. There’s strength and tenacity, but also an unquestionable layer of vulnerability that’s easily heard through the overpowering, yet organized instrumentals. With a powerful, artistic music video to go along with it, I can say that “King” is definitely one of my tracks of 2015.
I appreciate electronic indie bands like Years & Years because you can tell in their actions and in their words that they are genuine and passionate about what they do, and that they appreciate a mixture of different styles in order to cater to every audience. In the end, Years & Years do make catchy, addictive dance music, but also tries to keep that raw emotion and passion that supplies a heart and makes it worth listening to.
The band has said that they do want to release a full-length album soon, but they don’t know when or how. This EP, however, will happily join the Real EP in their archive as a triumphant place holder until that time.
photo courtesy of the line of best fit