Years & Years is a British based synth pop trio that captivated us in 2015 with their debut album, Communion. They’re known for their unique beats and stunning music videos that always feature some sort of effortlessly cool dancing. I remember falling in love with their music after hearing their song “Real” and feeling instantly captivated in their world. I fell in love with the members (Olly Alexander, Emre Turkmen, and Mikey Goldsworthy) and how much they cared for their art and the people that consumed it. For the past three years, fans (myself included) have been anticipating the next release that we can all obsess over.
Well, they delivered. And they delivered everything we needed, and more.
Their new album, Palo Santo, is a dance pop extravaganza including countless bops that will be stuck in our heads for days. In an Instagram live, Olly Alexander explained his inspiration for the album, saying “This stick of wood that you burn, the smoke is meant to purify your space from all evil spirits and negative energy and it’s called Palo Santo. That’s the name of track 10, that is the name of the album.”
Lyrically, the album can only be described as stunning. Similar to their first album, it includes many religious metaphors in songs like “Sanctify” and “Preacher”.There is imagery that will stick with you from the first note you hear to the end. Every line is crafted like it was meant to hold all of the feelings the writers have ever had in each syllable. The album explores sexuality, love, heartbreak, and everything in between in such an unapologetic manner that you can’t help but be captivated.
Ever so charismatic lead singer, Olly Alexander, exudes a lovely spirit that just makes you root for him. He has one of those soft voices with so much underlying power that it carries the story of Palo Santo even in the silences. When he sings sadness, we feel it and when he sings joy, we smile. It’s such a beautiful thing to give your thoughts power, and Alexander does it with ease and confidence that is ever so admirable. His voice is transcendent. Pop music is often accused of lacking substance, but this album completely challenges that stereotype shamelessly and wholeheartedly. There is beauty and intention in every note and every word of this album, and that is something that deserves endless recognition.
They have even done a short film to go with the album, continuing their history of always having stunning visuals to couple whatever songs they release.
The aura of freedom in this album is much needed in these trying times. We are all human and we feel things and those things can be made into art. Art is meant to inspire, and this album will do just that. Blast every track and dance like no one is watching. Let the music and the story enrapture you until you are no longer in your own world, but in the world of Palo Santo.