Music

Albums: Olly Alexander delivers a sensuous treat on his first solo Years & Years album

There is also new music from Miles Kane and Yard Act...

The third studio album from Years & Years is out now
By Reporters

YEARS & YEARS

NIGHT CALL

THE third studio album from Years & Years – now Olly Alexander's solo project – is a sensuous treat packed with seductive tunes. It's a lively album which could fill a dance floor, although the lyrics cover emotions from love and lust to loss and heartbreak. Hit singles Starstruck, Sweet Talker, Crave and Sooner Or Later don't overshadow the other tracks here, which are strong enough to hold their own.

The record moves effortlessly from dancier cuts to more chilled tracks such as Intimacy and Strange And Unusual.

It's rare to find an album with 14 strong and varied tracks but Night Call is a great listen, from catchy opener Consequences, which looks back on a painful relationship, to the atmospheric and sensuous closing track, Reflection.

Alexander was one of the faces of 2021 after an acclaimed performance in Channel 4 drama It's A Sin and Night Call often seems to echo his character Ritchie Tozer's passion for life.

He welcomed 2022 by fronting a New Year's Eve show on BBC One and this album should ensure he continues his hot streak.

Four stars

Beverley Rouse

YARD ACT

THE OVERLOAD

THE poster campaign, major label, BBC Sound of 2022 longlist, Sir Elton John's support – all show there's a belief that Yard Act are the new post-punk act most likely to make it big.

Which makes the strong influence of The Fall on tracks like Rich surprising, as Mark E Smith spent 40 years creating his wonderful and frightening world without bothering the mainstream much.

But this debut album has plenty of evidence to suggest the Leeds band are going places, with strong tunes, heavy sarcasm and a sense of humour that sets them apart.

The title track is punk funk with an unstoppable chorus, with vocalist James Smith relaying advice about how they'd be better off ditching the singer and the original tracks, and just “play the standards, don't get political”.

Dead Horse takes on xenophobia – “I'm not scared of people who don't look like me, unlike you” – while Witness is fast and furious, with plenty of guitar.

Yard Act are moving fast, confident enough to leave their four singles, including breakout Fixer Upper, off the album and hinting the next record may be very different.

Tough times see people turn to bland comfort music, leading inevitably to a backlash with more challenging and angrier alternatives appearing, and Yard Act are well placed to lead the charge.

Three stars

Matthew George

MILES KANE –

CHANGE THE SHOW

MILES Kane's last album attracted perhaps the worst reviews of his career.

But on Change The Show, the indie singer-songwriter overcomes their most common criticism – that his magpie-like approach to genre means his albums lack personality.

The former Rascals frontman, one half of The Last Shadow Puppets alongside Alex Turner, also largely does away with his well-worn topics of glitz, glamour and heartbreak, instead opting for songs of self-reflection.

Kane has gone back to his roots and embraced Motown, Northern Soul and classic R&B.

The result is his most cohesive album yet, one with a sense of humour (his “idol” Paul O'Grady introduces one track) and a pleasing rawness.

But, for all this, the album still sometimes leans towards the derivative.

Album opener Tears Are Falling is more of a tribute to Marc Bolan than an example of how to push the glam sound forward, while Constantly riffs on The Ronettes' Be My Baby.

However, the title track and his fizzing duet with Corinne Bailey Rae, Nothing's Ever Gonna Be Good Enough, feel inventive enough.

Three stars

Alex Green

LUDOVICO EINAUDI

UNDERWATER

WHEN it's your first new solo album release in two decades, there's a certain amount of expectation attached to it. And pianist and composer Ludovico Einaudi's latest offering, titled Underwater, has risen to the previously very high bar he has set in his repertoire.

Featuring 12 newly-composed tracks, the combination of just Einaudi and his piano is an impactful one as it always is.

The return to basics, if you like, and an album born out of lockdown, have resulted in a memorable musical offering.

Opening single Luminous sets the tone for the album and as the musician himself says: “I felt a sense of freedom to abandon myself and let the music flow differently.”

And it shows.

Tracks like Indian Yellow, Natural Light and of course title track Underwater seem to encapsulate the energy of the musician's isolation with his piano and the end result is emotive and lingering.

Four stars

Kerri-Ann Roper

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