Years & Years – Communion
Years & Years are on the emotional side of synthpop and dance with their first full-length album Communion. The record, written by the trio Olly Alexander, Mikey Goldsworthy and Emre Türkmen, explores unhealthy desires and relationships that bring self-destruction and hurt.
The lyrics are refreshingly (and painfully) self-aware. Olly Alexander often sings about the willingness to mould himself into someone desirable for the person he desires – at the risk of his own well-being to the point of diminishing himself to appeal to someone.
On Real, he sings about not feeling good enough for someone, “I think that if I had been good enough for you/would I be better/would I be good?” With Take Shelter, he sings about a cheating prospect and shows no remorse for it. “I don’t really wanna stop myself/Nobody’s gonna tell me I need help/Are you coming over soon?/I need you at the darkest time”
He knows the behaviour and thoughts are destructive, as he sings “all I really want/is you to understand that I’m a mess,” on the relatively mellow Eyes Shut. Having these characteristics makes for a susceptible person, easy to manipulate. The single King is on being made to feel good in a relationship but completely lacking any control, “I was a king under your control.”
Ties is one of the rare moments in which there is some freedom from this control as Olly repeatedly taunts the line “are you having fun?” over an 80s synth beat, but for the chorus he goes back to his need to be connected to him again, “I just wanna be the one you tie.”
Communion is post-club music. #hotmess songs to unwind to alone after a wild night out. It perfectly captures the feeling of being alone emotionally while in a failing relationship using slick and glossy production, and although there isn’t a lot of variation throughout and cliches are used liberally – particularly the use of ‘light’ – the melodies are paced enough that they aren’t overwhelming. They never go off point.
It’s the musical equivalent of having eight sugar-loaded liqueur drinks with an extra six shots of tequila. You know you’ll be hella hungover in the morning but you just need to let it all out now.
4. Take Shelter
6. Eyes Shut