Years & Years: Night Call – Energetic collection of floor-fillers

Kylie Minogue joins showbiz golden boy Olly Alexander in his first project since band split

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Artist: Years & Years
Genre: Pop
Label: Polydor/Universal

Olly Alexander operates with almost eye-watering levels of talent. From his acting career – spanning brilliant turns in It’s A Sin, Skins and God Help The Girl – to his ascent as a global pop star with Years & Years. Coupled with work as an LGBTQ liberation advocate, the 31-year-old is riding the current Alexander-frenzy with grace. Being talented is one thing, but he also happens to be one of the most likable guys in the business.

Night Call, the third studio record from Years & Years, is the first billed as a solo project following Alexander’s split from band members Mikey Goldsworthy and Emre Türkmen last year. The Deluxe Edition boasts 16 tracks, featuring collaborations with Swedish duo Galantis (Sweet Talker), Kylie Minogue (Starstruck) and production from Dan Grech (Lana Del Rey, George Ezra, Scissor Sisters).

Night Call is an energetic collection of dancefloor fillers that runs the spectrum from dark and sultry to clean-cut pop. There’s an almost single-minded focus on movement throughout the record. Whether it’s invitations to dance, physical encounters from dark dancefloors to four-poster beds, or simply the near-constant electronic pulse that is the basis of the production, this is a record for stepping out after a long period of calm.

Starstruck, which gets two versions here – one featuring Minogue on vocals – is a straightforward driving beat with small injections of sci-fi synths, kitschy enough to excuse some clunky lyrics such as “if I could bottle you up I would sip you like cosmic juice”. The title track uses similar tactics; a melodious chorus, pulsating rhythm, and a slight injection of 1970s disco in the form of the Donna Summer-like laser-gun “pew pew”, which you simply don’t hear on enough records these days. See also A Second To Midnight, another Kylie feature, for a throwback that lands somewhere between 1980s Boy Meets Girl and 1990s Steps – whether or not that’s a good thing will entirely depend on your appetite for violin synths and handclaps.


But it’s not all forgetting your troubles by kissing on the dancefloor. There is a playful flirtation with darkness; “the only thing I crave is the pain from you,” goes Crave, which sounds like Justin Timberlake gone disco; “I want you to stay but I don’t want you to be another lesson learned,” goes Intimacy. But on the whole, Alexander keeps it light.

The Years & Years project continues its run as a floor-filling conduit for Alexander’s talent and likability. There are probably no straight-up brilliant songs on this album, but between the throwback production and catchy choruses, there’s enough good here to keep us rooting for showbiz’s current golden boy.

Andrea Cleary

Andrea Cleary is a contributor to The Irish Times specialising in culture