Fresh off of their Y & Y EP released earlier in the year, Years & Years have finally released their triumphant debut album, Communion. The band appeared on the electronic / dance scene back in 2012, when the group was then a five piece. Six singles later (four of which have made it onto Communion), the now-three piece have perfected and polished their sound for their first major album. After demanding attention with their catchy singles like ‘Take Shelter’ and ‘Desire’, this album truly shows how the trio have brought a sense of finesse to a broad genre.
The albums begins on an intimate number entitled ‘Foundation’, one of the group’s more modest cuts. While minimalistic in terms of the sonic landscape of the song, it’s still quite beautiful and emotional. It acts as a ‘Foundation’ for the emotional aspect of the album, which is conveyed heavily throughout the album, most notably through lead vocalist Olly Alexander’s pure vocals. A lot of the soul throughout the album comes from his voice. The actual instrumentation behind the vocals also add a certain level of fun to each track, definitely getting your foot tapping with each beat. A common formula in terms of the synths on the album is to build up over time. In more cases than not, you can find yourself listening to a track that has a moderate introduction that transitions to an explosive collection of synths and noise to conclude the song. The album also has a few tracks that dare to push the borders of electronica. ‘Border’ is almost a rock ballad, with a driving beat and a chorus melody that pleases your ears to hear - the only thing keeping it from filling that “rock ballad” label is the lack of any acoustic instrumentation, though that is more than forgivable. ‘Memo’ takes a brief step away from the electronic landscape and is lead by room-filling piano chords. The song still has traces of electronica riddled throughout and at the core, but the acoustic instrumentation is a welcome change of pace for the album. The closing track, ‘1977‘, has an enchanting bassline, subtle but demanding your attention. This album is all about the little things hidden in the mix, while the foreground of sounds is already pleasing to hear.
The album name definitely lives up to the general idea expressed throughout the album. Each track has an aspect of intimacy of it, despite being upfront and arresting your attention on the surface. Upon further inspection, a story is revealed. From beginning to end, the whole album is generally a love story, building from desiring love to holding on to memories of it. Each track can be perceived in a variety of ways unrelated to love, but that core idea is expressed through the general progression of the album. Communion is definitely one of the more relatable releases this year.
Communion is a challenge to the electronic and dance scene. Its catchy to simply listen to, and heavy to take in with an honest listen. The acoustic takes on the deluxe edition of the album are beautiful renditions, be sure to check those out if you haven’t heard them already - they add another level of emotion to the album. Years & Years’ debut album is a major success, not only on the charts, but in execution as well. With the music they’ve released up to this point, the trio has brought their sound to a polished and firm state that can only improve with time.
Favorite Tracks: Border, Foundation, Take Shelter
Least Favorite Tracks: Ties, Real