Years & Years’ Palo Santo - What You Need To Know
Three years after wowing with their debut LP Communion, pop trio Years & Years are back with a follow-up. Here is everything you need to know about their second album Palo Santo...
A little background…
The build-up to Years & Years’ debut album Communion was certainly intense. Though they’d been a going concern since 2010, the hype around the band really began to build in 2014, culminating in the trio being named as the winner of the BBC Sound of 2015 poll and narrowly missing out on the BRITs’ Critics Choice Award to James Bay.
Before the album dropped, the band had already scored a Number One single with ‘King’ and were dominating the airwaves. The album, upon its release in July, went straight to Number One. It would wind up selling over a million copies, providing eight singles and scoring the band four BRIT award nominations.
The band toured hard for the year that followed, eventually ending in Berlin in September 2016. They provided a single, ‘Meteorite’, for the soundtrack to Bridget Jones’ Baby and then disappeared off to enjoy some downtime.
2017 was spent making this new album, with the band stressing in interviews that they were in no rush to deliver a quick follow-up. The time spent has not only yielded new album Palo Santo, but also a short film.
Palo Santo, which translates to ‘Holy Wood’ in Spanish, is a concept record, set in a genderless dystopian society populated by androids known as Palo Santo. To go with the album, the band have launched their own currency, YearCoin as well as a series of wild videos.
The film itself, also titled Palo Santo, is narrated by Dame Judi Dench and directed by Fred Rowson with the band’s frontman Olly Alexander starring alongside Dench and cult Thai actor Vithaya Pansringarm.
You can see the trailer below…
Who’s producing it?
For their second LP, the pop trio have recruited a veritable who’s who of contemporary pop production talent.
First up is Mark Ralph, who produced most of Communion with the band as working with the likes of Clean Bandit and Fickle Friends, he’s on three tracks on this record.
Second is Greg Kurstin, one of the hitmakers supreme, who has helped Adele, Sia and Ellie Goulding among many, many others. He gets two credits.
DJ Two Inch Punch, who was also a key man on Communion, is back again for two tracks, while Julia Michaels, Clarence Coffee Jr, dance eccentric GRADES and frequent Florence + The Machine/Jessie Ware collaborator Kid Harpoon also have credits on the record.
Any special guests?
Plenty of production talent, but no named artists appear aside from the three members of Years & Years.
What does it sound like?
The glossy straightforward pop of the band’s first album has most definitely been dialled back for Palo Santo. On Communion, every track geared for mainstream radio and ready to be remixed to fill dancefloors, flexible and hummable throughout.
Palo Santo is denser and much more thoughtful album. There are ballads like ‘Hypnotised’ as well as brooding R&B, like on single ‘Sanctified’ and ‘Karma’. There’s a fair chunk of the bright Day-Glo dance-pop that became the band’s early trademark, but this is an album with many more shades than its predecessor.
Does it deliver?
It’s fair to say that Palo Santo might take a few more listens to get into than Communion, but if you give it the time, then this is a richer and more rewarding experience.