Monday, March 9th, 2015

Years & Years – King

They won the BBC Sound of 2015, and our opinion has improved slightly…


[Video][Website]
[6.14]

Abby Waysdorf: I took a road trip last weekend to Ghent, which means that I listened to the radio for several hours. Like many without cars, this isn’t a normal habit for me, which means I don’t normally get to hear what the Dutch public (or at least the Dutch public that listens to 3FM) hear. Somewhere on a Belgian highway King came on over the speakers and I thought that I had to remember the lyrics of this one — it grabbed me in a way that the rest of what I’d heard hadn’t. And then when I got back, lo and behold, here it is. It’s the kind of song I really want to hear on the radio, and especially Dutch radio — immediately compelling glossy Europop that works its way into you quickly, all chorus and movement and rush, a fine example of the genre in all its populist and transcendent glory. I’ll probably listen to it a thousand times before September, while drunk and while sober, and I’ll be into it each time. After September, who knows? But also, who cares? Bring on the outdoor dancing.
[9]

Edward Okulicz: Years & Years do not demonstrate a single original idea on this song, but the manual everyone consults for how to make this kind of generic dance-pop breezer is dog-eared with good reason. Olly Alexander’s voice is probably annoying in an earnest way, but “King” is the sort of song that is a fine intersection for it — he’s weedy enough to act out being under the thumb of a girl (or the memory of a girl) and unobtrusive enough to get out of the way of the bosh. All the parts of the song itself are also strong enough that they might have worked with a Generic House Diva or even A Shouty Dude. Hands are in the air, and this one goes straight on to my rowing machine mix as soon as I can reconcile the two motions.
[9]

Maxwell Cavaseno: The intro suggests that Years & Years might dip into 808-State style exotica tinges, but then we end up in the same territory of house-pop that gets us nowhere these days. Olly here sounds far too hollow to convey what he’s going for, and I just wish this band could maybe carve something defiantly them out, instead of being talents fitting for the scene where this sound reigns triumphantly. You’re not going to get to being kings without learning to stand-out a lot more thoroughly after all.
[4]

Megan Harrington: I’m not detecting a difference between this and “Desire,” though they’re a fine song. 
[5]

Patrick St. Michel: If these scamps’ “Desire” was a pure energy-drink-mixed-with vodka tizzy, here they are more than happy to water everything down and take things slower. Years & Years seem to be a group who thrive on the huge hook, the sort of chorus everyone wants to scream along to three or four drinks back, and “King” delivers a serviceable one. Except it isn’t good enough to really rise above the lackluster material around it.
[5]

Alfred Soto: Reviewing this single on the same day as Carly Rae Jespen’s “I Really Like You” gives me the perfect opportunity to note two synth-powered visions of romance. Where Jespen sings like she really “let go, let go of everything,” Y&Y gum up the works with their enunciation. The words don’t matter, dudes, and you know they don’t because otherwise what’s that programmed foghorn doing on these 1995 presets?
[5]

Brad Shoup: That diminshed-shofar figure is justified and ancient. It certainly links up better with the topline than the bridge does to the body of the song.
[6]

Jonathan Bradley: The melody bends like the first rays of dawn and maybe waking up to a dance party might not be so bad. But the house chords sound like the morning commute and the only release offered here is like that of a surreptitious loosening of your tie. Instead of the real vocal, we seem to have the one performed by the guy singing along to the radio while waiting for the green light.
[5]

Jonathan Bogart: Would pair well with something starchy and bivalvey. Say pasta with a clam sauce. Hard to think of a use for it outside of the taste economy, though.
[6]

Katherine St Asaph: Exactly what Ne-Yo might make had he stuck with EDM, down to the control-game lyric. It’s a sound I forgot I missed; the synth bass only deepens it.
[7]

Anthony Easton: Olly Alexander was the nadir of God Help the Girl, which was the nadir of Stuart Murdoch’s career — which is sad, because Stuart Murdoch has been pretty steady for a long time. This is overly long, and does not move very much. There is a bit of Michael Jackson I guess, and some Heaven-like house in places, but it just seems smug and self-satisfied. 
[4]

Scott Mildenhall: At once a humid summer and distant winter, “King” shows what makes Years & Years distinctive. Olly Alexander’s thick vapour of a voice suits his desperate fending off of agitation, and the halfway euphoric chorus and inwardly directed exhortations at close lay bare a palpable desire for release.
[7]

Mo Kim: Stream-of-consciousness thoughts on my third listen: wow, this would make a great soundtrack if SEGA ever decided to do an old-school Sonic game again. Lush is the word. So much lushness. The chorus feels a little Mumford-y, but whatever, it’s dancey and I’d probably do some involuntary bouncing if I heard it in Starbucks. Really, really well-constructed bridge, but it’s too bad that the horn loop goes from charming to obnoxious so quickly. There is a lot to like here, though, and I hope these guys will deliver again.
[7]

Will Adams: It’s refreshing to hear how light “King” sounds; even though EDM is in its decline, its blown-out thump still has a stranglehold on four-on-the-floor music. “King,” by contrast, has a dynamic range and gorgeous production to keep reeling you back in.
[7]

Reader average: [8] (6 votes)

Vote: 0   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10

One Response to “Years & Years – King”

  1. I made pasta with clam sauce while listening to this yesterday and both were excellent.