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On July 10, UK breakthrough group Years & Years released their highly anticipated debut album Communion. The electronic-pop trio were the 2015 recipients of the prestigious BBC Sound Of… award and have had the world’s eyes on them ever since.
If pop music in 2014 was Lorde, then pop music in 2015 is Years & Years. It’s only a matter of time before the copycats will be creeping in trying to emulate the band’s signature and oh-so-current pop sound that carries throughout their album. Their heavy lyrics are masked beneath funky beats, and it’s this substance and juxtaposition that has set them apart from their more superficial counterparts.
But possessing a signature sound alone sometimes just isn’t enough, and by track ten you might start to wonder whether the end is in sight (spoiler: you still have three songs to go). Despite this monotony, born of an album full of songs that are all only slight variations on each other, they’ve managed to tick all the boxes for a chart-topping album that will no doubt be a commercial success. The reality of the situation is that they’re an emerging act that has been under immense pressure to deliver perfection, so it makes sense why they chose to play it safe and not once veer away from what they know.
Ballad “Eyes Shut” is the clear standout of the album. It’s pretty damn powerful and, coming in halfway through the album, it will snap you out of whatever kind of dance-pop trance you’ve fallen into. It masterfully combines elements of a traditional ballad (heavy keys and percussion, and strong lyrics) with their distinct style. It shouldn’t work, but it does, and it’s damn near perfect. If you’re a sucker for songs about lost love, pair “Eyes Shut” with “Without You” and get ready for feels to be seriously cranked up a notch. If, on the contrary, you were a fan of the party tunes released prior to the album, then you’ll be happy to know that “Real”, “Ties”, “Gold” and “Border” all sound pretty much the same as “King”, “Desire”, “Worship” and “Take Shelter”—and that’s about all I have to say about that.
Communion is the album you want to be the soundtrack of your summer. The kind of album that will bode well with white sand beaches, UV paint parties and road trips. Unfortunately for us Southern Hemisphere folk, this album can only act as a facilitator for such escapism. It’s not going to overpower your fun and it can quite happily play in the background without sparking intense conversation about the meaning of life. If you can take it for what it is and not look past surface level, then Communion is essentially just a really good time that has been perfectly packaged for the mainstream market. Nothing more, nothing less