Sometimes it takes an album or two for me to really connect with an artist. Other times all it takes is ONE SONG. For UK synthpop trio Years & Years it was definitely the latter. During my unintentional post-holiday hiatus−while I may not have been WRITING about new music I most certainly was LISTENING. Now, the first I heard of Years & Years was actually only a couple of weeks ago around the same time the blogosphere AND social media started simultaneously freaking out over a song called “King.” I think this must have been about the same time British tastemaker (and perpetuator serious JAMZ) Zane Lowe played the tune on his BBC Radio 1 show when he named it the “Hottest Record of the day.” Since then I must have listened to 50x over (including one morning this week ON REPEAT on my work commute). OBSESSED doesn’t begin to cover how I feel about this song.
“King” is INFECTIOUS from start to finish. A little bit 90s sounding…the single could stand on it’s own in a club even without proper remixes. That being said, I wouldn’t be upset if Interscope (or Polydor back home in the UK) commissioned some DJ love from these boys. Years & Years have a real BANGER on their hands people. The song is due out March 1st in the UK (no word yet on a U.S. release) and serves as the follow-up to previous single, “Desire,” another 90s-house inspired club banger produced by Mark Ralph and Two Inch Punch (Sam Smith, Jessie Ware) and co-written by the band with Kid Harpoon (Florence + The Machine, Jessie Ware).
Citing a mixed bag of musical influences, including Flying Lotus, Diplo, Radiohead and Jai Paul and incorporating JUST as big of a variety of genres into their sound, including electropop, R&B and a healthy dose of 90s house music− Years & Years is certainly a band to watch. The band consists of three members currently: frontman (and keyboardist) Olly Alexander, Mikey Goldsworthy on bass and Emre Turkmen on synths. While an earlier incarnation of the band included 5 members, they were down to 3 when they signed with French indie electronic label Kitsuné Records back in 2013, releasing two singles−”Traps” and “Real.”
The video for “Real” included Olly’s actor friend Ben Whishaw. In fact, Olly Alexander started out as an actor, dabbling on stage and on the big AND small screen. He featured in Peter and Alice, playing the role of Peter Pan in London’s famous West End opposite buddy Whishaw and the great Dame Judi Dench. Alexander also had roles on the popular British series, Skins as well as in a number of British films, including Tormented (with Alex Pettyfer), Great Expectations (with Jeremy Irvine & Holliday Grainger) and the Oscar-nominated Jane Campion-period drama, Bright Star starring Ben Whishaw and Abbie Cornish.
In 2014 the band singed with Polydor Records and released a fourth single, “Take Shelter” which saw their EP go all the way to the top of the iTunes UK Singles Electronic Chart. Following the November release of fifth single “Desire” and it’s peak position of No. 22 on the UK Singles Chart in December, the boys were well on their way to bigger and better. In addition to major support slots opening for Clean Bandit and Sam Smith, not to mention a performance on ‘Later With Jools‘ Years & Years was SHORTLISTED for a coveted BRITS Critic’s Choice Award. While the band ultimately came in as a runner-up with James Bay winning the prize, Years & Years landed at the top of the BBC Sound Poll for 2015, being named 2015’s hottest new act. Not bad boys! Not bad at all. What’s more, Buzzfeed Music recently named Years & Years as an ‘artist to watch’ so it’s only a matter of time before they go viral here in America (we KNOW what Buzzfeed does to the internet by now!). I’m pretty pumped that I’ll get to see these guys play one of TWO sold out shows in New York City next week at Le Poisson Rouge (their other sold out show is in Brooklyn at Rough Trade).
Check out the STUNNING video for “King” below, featuring choreography by Ryan Heffington (Sia‘s “Chandelier” and “Elastic Heart,” Arcade Fire‘s “We Exist,” FKA Twigs‘ “Google Glass” and “Video Girl“) and was directed by Nadia (Rae Morries, The 1975). While we can’t download “King” yet America, go download everything you can from their U.S. iTunes store.
UPDATE: Years & Years will release an EP on iTunes (and other digital retailers/streaming music sites) on February 1st, including “King.” YAY!