Chic’s Nile Rodgers has said in interviews that one of his key songwriting rules is to have something interesting at the beginning to draw the listener in, a tactic described as “Don’t bore us; get to the chorus.” It’s something that Years & Years could learn from. Not because there’s anything inherently wrong with their intros or their verses, but because their choruses are such brilliantly catchy explosions of technicolour that’s it’s difficult to imagine that you’d want to listen to anything else.
Remarkably, it’s a trick they repeat song after song on ‘Palo Santo,’ the London trio’s second album, and their astutely crafted synth-pop cements their place as Pet Shop Boys’ spiritual successors.
It’s not a perfect record by any means, though. Their reliance on airy keyboard lines and light percussion, twinned with Olly Alexander’s slightly reedy vocals, means the mix is a little too enthusiastic on the treble in places, and could do with a portion of bass. This arrives with ‘Up In Flames’, a track which is bafflingly only available on the deluxe edition of the album, but showcases that when Years & Years get it right, there’s no-one to touch them in the current UK pop landscape.
Words: Joe Rivers
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