Years & Years - Palo Santo
Years & Years
The thing that made Years & Years popular in the first place is the thing they are trying to shed on this new sophomore release. No longer a band after something on the Top 40, even though they still have songs that could chart, this album is much more indulgent and evocative rather than just some tropical house jams. The albums opener "Sanctify" sets the stage for an album that has religious overtones, but is ready to say some of the most profane things possible as well. Often with albums that go after a concept like this they band ends up losing something that made them special, but somehow it works here. They still have songs that are going to make you fucking dance like "Hallelujah" but the y have far more depth than just club bangers. ON the surface "All for You" feels like a typical pop song, but right under the surface there is so much slippery emotion tied to it. Years & Years will have you singing the anthemic parts, dancing to the beats and make you actually feel something important is going on. The highs really soar on Palo Santo but the lows can feel a bit boring and monotonous. "Karma" is a bit of an 80s inspired bop, but it sounds too much like a Michael Jackson track, which everyone seems to be totally obsessed with right now. Those moments happen throughout the record where it seems like a song feels to generic for the high minded ideal this record is trying to put forth.
"Hypnotized" is similar in creating this thick soundscape but the song never really goes anywhere. "If You're Over Me" brings things back around to pop realm and it's at a very welcome point on the record, just in time to get you out of the more heavy tracks. This track in particular has potential to be the damn biggest song they've ever done, it's that catchy of a pop song. When they go for the deep indulgent baroque pop they land with songs like the title track "Palo Santo" but it's when they find that balance between rich and poppy that they really soar. The album closes on "Here" which is far more style than substance. Palo Santo leaves you with the feeling that Years & Years are more than just a Tropical House Pop band, and actually have some real depth and things to say. I don't think they have dialed it perfectly in just yet, but they are well on their way with an album that works in both concept and execution.
7.9 out of 10