Olly Alexander and Years & Years made a decent-sized splash with their debut album, Communion that was released in 2016. Impressing with some tight production, some great melody writing, and Alexander’s great vocal – they made a lot of noise with their debut. They’re back with Palo Santo, and with the new record Alexander and his bandmates are experimenting sonically while Olly is continually evolving as a lyricist.
Alexander bold and brazen and he’s talking about a lot of taboo subject matter. He’s obscuring the lines between holy and off-limits lyrically. He’s very outspoken about his sexuality and his role in the world. When you listen to Palo Santo, it reads like an open book if you’re listening closely and that’s nice to hear in 2018. The spirit of the subject matter and the music exists purely in 2018 but it’s using this early-90’s Madonna vibe to really push the message across. That’s something that nobody is doing right now.
Still, this album has some flaws. Everything from the opener “Sanctify” all the way to “If You’re Over Me” is outstanding. The melody writing and the production on the record are outstanding on those seven songs. After that, the album is just a bit meh there’s four songs that play a little slow and seem a bit redundant.
Years & Years is a trio that continues to grow and evolve as artists. Cool. I don’t see them going anywhere anytime soon unless Alexander goes strictly solo. This record is a solid second outing and one that will continue to push the band in big new places.