Thursday, June 7th, 2018

Years & Years – If You’re Over Me

…then you can’t get under m….. I’ll see myself out.


Vikram Joseph: Two listens in, and that effervescent synth hook had burrowed its way into my cortex and made a home there for the summer. Years & Years play a simple but blinding three-chord trick here, divergent vocal melodies splayed across the same progression in the verse, bridge and chorus. That hook bubbles along alluringly in the background all the way — the song’s about an emotionally manipulative ex playing hot and cold, and it works as a great little sonic metaphor for his teasing presence. “If You’re Over Me” alchemises that pain into a joyful pop song, but crucially doesn’t forget to make sure the pain’s still a tangible part of the song — it rears its head in the palpable desperation of “just call and it’s over” in the outro. Airy enough to soundtrack your picnics in the park this summer (thanks to Olly Alexander’s breathy head-voice) but still robust enough for the dancefloor, I reckon it may be their best single yet.

Micha Cavaseno: This one strikes a balance between indulgent and trite, and manages to hit the absolute equilibrium of doing neither and remaining absolutely unimpressive. Olly’s vocal here is both perfunctary and disposable, and the production here is the kind of thing people would use to vilify nearly any other pop star chancer. If anything, perhaps the most impressive characteristic is the arrogance to recognize so little work is going to be resoundly effective on so many.

Alfred Soto: After a couple years of muddled leaked material, Y&Y issue a track whose hook is front and center and Olly Alexander restricts his temptation to simper. I can’t resist songs in which singers perform an anxiety that they convince themselves they feel.

Alex Clifton: “If You’re Over Me” feels like a mirror of Robyn’s “Dancing On My Own” from the other side. Hear me out: where “Dancing” is regretful, “Over” goes bouncy. “Dancing” is about the wistfulness that accompanies watching your ex-lover move on; “Over” begs them to move on and release you. Both songs are powerful earworms, and both will break you if you’re not careful.  

Claire Biddles: Even on Years & Years’ sunnier singles, the constant connecting current of submission and drama tightens its grip around satisfaction. In the context of previous releases, “If You’re Over Me” is a gulp of fresh air: there’s no darkness, no hurt, no sexual submission. Olly Alexander has never sounded so light and airy — and there’s a pleasing sass to this new carefree state. On the surface, the yearning is gone and in its place, a salty demand to stop being fucked around: “You can’t keep deceiving/Does it make you feel good?” It’s fun to listen to Olly taking no shit for once, but then the cutesy electronics break down and he’s resigned to, “The same story, the same mistake/This heart just wants to break,” and it’s the same boy who sang “Would you lead me on?/I’m ready to be torn apart.” He knows — and I recognise — that breeziness is just the latest mask in a series that we’re fated to wear for the rest of our lives.

Matias Taylor: Assisted by uber-producer Steve Mac, every element of “If You’re Over Me” is precisely tuned for chart success, from the lyrics (not too specific) to the repetitive melody (perhaps too familiar), but it ends up sounding simultaneously laborious and perfunctory, like the exasperated, this-will-do end-product of an overlong writing session. The vivid imagery and gliding, effortless pop sensibilities that made their first singles so special aren’t very much on display here, and despite its overall enjoyable nature and some bright spots (the coda in particular, where the refrain fulfils the sugar rush the rest of the song aspires to), it’s hard to shake the feeling that the band are capable of far better when not anonymizing themselves via hit-chasing.

Stephen Eisermann: All too common in gay culture is one half of a broken relationship (often the one who ended the relationship either by choice/their actions) insists on remaining friends with the other. Gays cling on to the most intimate relationship they’ve known even if they’re over it because it’s a scary world and we are the minority, but what these people don’t realize is just how damaging this action is. Hearing Years & Years sing about this practice — specifically being over it — over a peppy synth-pop beat is cathartic and empowering. See, we are over it. I am not your go to best friend now because you have no one else; I have to heal, too. 

William John: Alexander sings the pre-chorus beautifully, but I can’t shake the feeling that I’m being shilled into applying for a term deposit account with those incessant synths.

Edward Okulicz: Sure, the plinky melody is a bit goofy for the message, but goofballs have break-ups too. And those break-ups need soundtracks. It’s easier to just cut people off in a sentence, but breaking up’s a lot easier than writing a pop song.

Scott Mildenhall: Just when it seemed they were going firmly off the beaten track, Years & Years serve up some straightforwardly bittersweet cured Cure meat. If “Sanctify” was their “It’s A Sin” then this is definitely “Heart” — the song as much as the radio station. Unblinking directness is the strength of both of those, as with this. Angst-inducing vacillation is put to the sword by quiet conviction; finality wisely delivered and accepted gently, but not without force. Perhaps if it weren’t so twinkly that certainty might be more believable; maybe best not to burn all bridges just yet.

Reader average: [9.5] (2 votes)

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