Dance music has continued to dominate the pop landscape this year, and BBC Sound of 2015 victors Years & Years have capitalised on this to become the biggest breakthrough band of 2015.
Their single ‘King’ topped the charts in March and has remained in the UK Top 40 ever since, and their recent single ‘Shine’ peaked at number two following the release of their debut album – which, surprise surprise, also debuted at number one.
Their set on the BBC6 Music Stage at Latitude Festival proved to be a strong indication of their success, and as they bounded off stage having just delivered one of the stand-out performances of the weekend, it’s obvious the novelty of playing to huge crowds most certainly hasn’t worn off.
“Last year we played the Alcove Stage to about 200 people”, singer Olly Alexander tells WOW247. “I was shocked how many people came to see us”.
Such is the rapid advance in their recent success that the band still feel wholly unaccustomed with being a bona-fide pop phenomenon. “I haven’t really had time to process it [the success of their number one album Communion] really, it’s been a whirlwind ever since it came out”.
The record hasn’t just been a commercial success either – Communion holds a very healthy 69 rating on Metacritic with particularly glowing reviews from DIY, Q Magazine and The Line of Best Fit. The only real negative assessment of the record was from the NME, but keyboardist Emre Turkmen insisted a bit of bad press didn’t bother him.
“There’s one or two [negative reviews], I suppose we’re not really the NME’s kind of thing,” he suggests in agreement with Alexander. “People can say what they like though, I don’t mind!”
For now the band are just focused on enjoying all of the benefits of the success that’s been coming their way, and the three-piece are having the time of their lives touring in support of their debut LP: “It’s really cool playing gigs to a packed crowd – you can really see the commercial success of the record when tons of people know the words to songs they didn’t used to. That’s the best part of playing live”.
One of the criticisms the NME leveled at Years & Years was that they’re a band “with nothing to say”. This might be true of their music, which revolves around the same kind of themes as many of their chart contemporaries, but a recent interview with Alexander suggests the three-piece aren’t afraid to express their opinions and make headlines as a result.
Whilst chatting with Digital Spy, the singer remarked that ‘It is kind of sad to me that we don’t have gay popstars singing about men using a male pronoun’ – a comment that was republished seemingly everywhere and interpreted as a dig at platinum-seller Sam Smith.
“I was quite surprised at the reaction people had to those comments”, Alexander reveals. “I think mainly I was concerned because in no way was I trying to hit out at any other gay artists. Some people tried to spin it that way – people suggested it was targeted at Sam Smith, which it definitely wasn’t”.
As for the future, the band fully intend on capitalising on their success and taking their summer-pop anthems to audiences around the world.
“We’re touring pretty much non-stop, we’re also releasing a new single and have to start thinking about the video for it”, Alexander tells me with genuine excitement in his voice. “Then we’re off to Australia now and then on to the US”.
Years & Years will return to the UK following a tour of the US in October, and will play the following dates:
9 Oct – 02 Academy Birmingham
10 Oct – Norwich Nick Rayns LCR, UEA
11 Oct – Rock City, Nottingham
13 Oct – 02 Academy Sheffield
14 Oct – 02 Academy Leeds
16 Oct – O2 Academy Newcastle
17 Oct – 02 ABC, Glasgow
18 Oct – Albert Hall, Manchester
20 Oct – 02 Academy Liverpool
21 Oct – 02 Academy Bristol
22 Oct – Cardiff University Student Unin
24 Oct – The Brighton Centre
26 Oct – Southend Cliffs Pavilion
28 Oct – 02 Academy Brixton
4 Nov – Mandela Hall, Belfast
5 Nov – Olympia, Dublin