Review of Years and Years – Night Call

Dane Deaner/Unsplash

I have been a huge fan of Years and Years since their single “King” soared to the top of the charts in the week of its release, in 2015. I have loved their music all the way from them starting off as a band of three to now, with Olly Alexander continuing the legacy as a solo artist. I have been lucky enough to see them perform live twice and it is an experience I will never forget. So I, along with many other keen fans, have been eagerly awaiting the release of the brand-new album, Night Call, the first release for Years and Years since 2018, and the first release from Olly Alexander as a solo artist.

It seems that Olly Alexander is everywhere at the moment – and rightfully so. In the past year alone, he has released multiple singles, has played the lead role of Ritchie Tozer on Channel 4’s critically acclaimed “It’s a Sin” (which I was incredibly late to the party watching, literally only finishing it last week), appeared as a guest judge on The Masked Singer, and performed on the BBC’s New Years show. His dazzling performance sparked hundreds of complaints for being ‘too sexy’, to which he laughed off and responded to by calling them ‘ridiculous’. Rightfully so. His sexual, sensual lyrics and performance is what makes him so captivating as an artist and is what makes Night Call such an incredible album.

The siren-esque effect of ‘Night Call’ (also demonstrated by the album’s gorgeous cover of Alexander of a siren merman) transports the listener into a dreamscape

Alexander has always been open about his sexuality and has never shied away from the topics of sex and affection within his music, and this album is no different. Songs such as “Crave” and “20 Minutes” explore the topic with catchy lyrics and a mesmerising, dance-pop backing track. It almost seems like a middle finger to those who complained about him being too sexy – though this album was written way before then. It is also a middle finger to those who have ever been homophobic, singing openly about his love for another man, a refreshing thing to see in the music industry.

Whilst they may be upbeat, pop tracks such as “Starstruck” and “Sweet Talker” which have become the dominant singles purely for their danceability and catchiness, to me are not the standouts of the album. Instead, the titular track “Night Call” and the lascivious “Intimacy” are the highlights. The siren-esque effect of Night Call (also demonstrated by the album’s gorgeous cover of Alexander of a siren merman) transports the listener into a dreamscape with Years and Years’ well-known synth-pop style and Alexander’s low, mesmerising vocals. “Intimacy” further explores sex with a familiar romantic partner in a way that seems like a complete fantasy, but a captivating one, nevertheless.

Night Call is a very strong start for Alexander’s solo music career and one that has been worth the long wait since the release of the first single back in March 2021. The album definitely lives up to the long built-up hype and publicity, and has quickly become a staple within my music collection. I have been lucky enough to acquire a signed vinyl (let me expand. Signed. By. Olly Alexander himself. To me. Personally. With a motivational quote) which now stands proudly within my ever-growing collection. I know that it will be an album that I gravitate towards due to its transportable nature, something that I love so much about Years and Years’ music and what has drawn me to them over the years. I believe that this is just the start of Alexander’s flourishing career as a solo artist, and a great start at that, and it makes me even more excited to see what he does next.