Album review | Years & Years long-awaited second album 'Palo Santo'

It's been three years since the group released their first album


It’s been three years since Olly, Emre & Mikey’s first album 'Communion' exploded into the charts, and now finally the boys’ sophomore release is ready to win your heart.

I don’t mean to sound over the top, but Years & Years’ new album, 'Palo Santo', could be my favourite pop record of the decade (foregoing our lord and saviour Carly Rae Jepsen).

It must be pretty difficult to be a pop artist in 2018.

How do you make your album release exciting when half your singles are already streaming, the other half includes a song inevitably co-written by Ed Sheeran (because it’s 2018) or has a guest vocal from *insert rising UK rapper here*, and it feels as if the only way to engage your fans is to take your clothes off on Instagram?

Enter Years & Years, with an album so fresh it somehow eclipses the first two singles, 'Sanctify' and 'If You’re Over Me'.

'Palo Santo' is a dark, confident, sex-positive (and sometimes medicated) all-encompassing anthemic album with all the feels.


At times, Olly’s song writing is so intensely real and relatable that you struggle to even breathe listening to it. 

'Lucky Escape' is an angry-emo, energising anthem; a psalm for a generation of us that suffer cruel anxiety-inducing algorithms that somehow always seems to flash up pictures of our ex cuddled up with somebody new.

Olly gets even more honest on 'All For You' crooning: “I spent a year wondering if I had all of the blame", and if you need a comment on our shared experience growing up LGBT+, put this lyric on a pin: “Life’s a bitter fruit if you choose to remain in your shame!”

Fiercely queer themes are happily present throughout, too: Olly wants his lover to “come on out” during 'Preacher', a song that cuts an Eighties power ballad with its energetic chord progression, soaring “woohoo” vocals and Duran Duran-esque cymbal crashes. 

'Here' and 'Hypnotised' bring a touch of Joni Mitchell and Imogen Heap to Olly’s “burn book” and the title track is about to do so much good for mental-health awareness.

This album will make you so proud -- and not just of Years & Years, but of yourself. Olly Alexander’s at full bloom and we’re all invited to join him.

'Palo Santo' is out now.

Rating: 5/5 stars

Words by James Barr. This review was first published in Attitude's July issue.