2018’s ‘Palo Santo’ saw Years & Years at their most complex. Lyrically, it’s intricate tales of dystopian science fiction were merged with frank and honest discussions of sexuality, set against a broad, interweaving digi-pop palette.
Since then, the project has been trimmed down – it’s now an Olly Alexander solo venture – and ‘Night Call’ reflects this impetus towards immediacy. A slim 11 tracks, it’s a bubbly, bright return, one that emphasises pop potency while not quite eschewing the lyrical daring that has always made Years & Years such an enriching experience.
Naturally, much of the record’s appeal falls on Olly’s exquisite voice. Channelling those prime Erasure cuts on closer ‘See You Again’, he’s an exuberant club force on Galantis collab ‘Sweet Talker’, and deliciously honest on bootie call anthem (and title track) ‘Night Call’.
Dynamic, taut, and punchy, ‘Night Call’ slices away the fat to reveal the pop muscle underneath. Opener ‘Consequences’ is a prime call-to-arms, one that channels The Weeknd and Prince in equal measure. Yet it’s not all pop rush – ‘Intimacy’ for example drops the tempo a little, allowing Olly’s sensual side to come to the fore.
The spicy lyricism of ’20 Minutes’ falls into ‘Strange And Unusual’, a song whose sharp, glittering edges are morphed into one of the album’s more directly hedonistic choruses.
Indeed, as a statement of immediacy ‘Night Call’ can scarcely be rivalled. Epitomising Olly Alexander’s pop tendencies, the record hones in on his multi-faceted persona, allowing this to illuminate the compact palette. it never quite transgresses those influences, yet in terms of sheer charm and bravura it places Olly right up there with his idols.
Words: Robin Murray
– – –
– – –