The trio’s latest album is available to buy now – but what have critics made of it?
The Guardian: **** “This empathetic outlook and refusal to embrace reductive ideas of good and bad is a tonic during an era in which moral didacticism has worryingly infiltrated pop culture.”
Pitchfork: “Palo Santo is a promising sophomore album because it evolves past the sound of the band’s debut. But at its low points, the record lacks the bite to drive home the razor’s-edge duality of sacred and profane that Alexander seems to thrive on. Eventually, themes of salvation, damnation, and enraptured revelation become mired in electropop clichés that are beneath the band’s talent. At their best, Years & Years are capable of godlike sublimity.”
NME: ***** “From start to finish, Years & Years worship at the triple-altars of limb-thrashing hedonism, religious iconography and guilt-tainted desire. Filthy, sexy, thoroughly debauched pop at its finest; ‘Palo Santo’ feels like a magical album.”
The Independent: **** “When the songs do drop in tempo, they’re stripped down so the sound is soulful and raw, rather than sickly sweet”
The Times: *** “If this sounds like the missing link between Leigh Bowery and a future race of highly advanced humanoids, it might come as a surprise to hear this nice but unremarkable collection of cheery songs. It’s ideal for dancing around the kitchen to, but unlikely to make you break out of your mind-forged manacles and embrace a new dawn.”
MusicOMH: **** “. The sounds and textures of their debut album are being developed, pushed, elaborated on, and in a year when artists like Janelle Monáe are shaping the sound of queer music stateside, Years & Years offer a blueprint for UK pop that carries on the lineage of Pet Shop Boys and George Michael but is also forward-thinking and connected to the broader scene.”
Irish Times: *** “Years & Years make dance-pop music distinguished by its feelings of intimacy. The production slaps hard – of that there is no doubt. But there’s something immediate and personal about their performance that’s untypical of the genre.”
The FT: **** “Alexander’s vocals are smooth and boyishly high but have a certain snappiness. Meanwhile the music brings an artful awareness of space and texture to the chart-driven world of dance-pop.”
Monstagigz: **** “Palo Santo may have been a long time coming but it’s definitely been worth the wait and should see Olly and co troubling the charts for a lot longer than seemed likely a while back.”
The Musical Hype: **** ” This album is successful for a multitude of reasons. First and foremost, Olly Alexander makes a compelling frontman with quite an intriguing set of pipes. Also, the production and the songwriting are sensational, making this album incredibly consistent from start to finish.”
Press Play Ok: **** “It’s also a rare feat for an album to make us wish that every bonus track were part of the full package, but that’s what Years & Years do on a stellar second album.”
Palo Santo is available to buy now.