Years & Years "Communion" Is A Promising Debut
London-based group Years & Years formed in 2010, when multi-instrumentalists Mikey Goldsworthy and Emre Türkmen heard vocalist Olly Alexander sing in the shower at a friend’s house. This chance interaction was the catalyst for one of 2015’s most promising dance-pop acts. The group cites many musicians that shaped their sound – Goldsworthy found inspiration in Santana and Radiohead, Türkmen recalls The Beatles’ “She Loves You” as his first musical epiphany, and Alexander fell in love with soul artists Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles and Aretha Franklin at a young age. This eclectic combination of influencers helped Years & Years generate a sound that spans most genres that has been referred to as “electro-soul-pop.”
Part of the group’s intrigue lies in their almost theatrical ability to transform introspection into a dramatic, soaring melody. Alexander gave up an acting career to pursue Years & Years, which he talks about with BBC as part of the trio’s interview after being named BBC’s Sound Of 2015:
“I get to do my own thing with music. I get to write the songs and sing the songs. As an actor, you have to do what someone else tells you to do and say someone else's words. And you're limited by the way you look and music is just more rewarding creatively for me.”
Their sound evokes a combination of carefully crafted 80’s-esque dance pop, clean rhythm and hooks in the style of Disclosure, and the soulful, introspective lyrics of Sam Smith. Guitarist Emre Türkmen notes the development of the band’s sound in an interview with The Student Pocket Guide:
We wouldn’t really have described ourselves as anything because we can’t describe it. We never really thought about it in any real, conscious manner. When we first started I used to play guitar and we were quite an acoustic, almost a folk/indie kind of band. Then over time, I started getting really interested in electronics and Mikey started playing bass synthesizers and it happened quite gradually. I think it takes a while to find your sound, we didn’t design it, but once we started playing it we didn’t look back.
Billboard notes that the band has “a strong skill set, not a sound” – the band’s versatility promises room for not only improvement, but also divergence from the formulaic, joyous dance-pop sound they have cultivated thus far.
The trio received promising feedback on their first full-length, Communion, released on July 10th 2015 via Interscope. AllMusic describes the album’s style as “artfully [combining] the ambient, 80’s style synth-pop of M83 with the dancefloor grooves of Justin Timberlake.” Evidently, the trio effortlessly mixes genres and combines an energetic, often frenetic club beat and angsty, authentic lyrics that result in a sparkling debut album and promising career.