Pet Shop Boys feat. Years & Years – Dreamland

“All it’s missing is a double-clap after every four bars.”

Tim: A pairing here that, in hindsight, is notable largely for the fact that it took long to happen – I saw this and thought “yes, of course they’re doing a song together”. BUT, the twenty trillion dollar question: is it any good?

Tom: Oh, listen to those synths! All it’s missing is a double-clap after every four bars. (I’m joking, but also, I did start adding them myself at one point.) You’re right, it’s good, although…

Tim: YES, even if I do want to sing FREAK OUT on top of the chorus.

Tom: Right.

Tim: It does, in fact, sound pretty much exactly what I’d expect a Pet Shop Boys feat. Years & Years song to sound like: nice electro beats, fairly gentle with nothing too heavy but an interesting backing nonetheless, and lyrics that are fairly interesting.

Tom: Along with a really innovating music video.

Tim: I like it – there’s a new album out in January, and this is a decent lead track.

Years & Years feat. Tove Lo – Desire

“Here, kneel in this gymasium while a load of people fondle you.”

Tim: Desire, the first track they had that was fairly successful, and the last one they had before ‘getting big’; now, they’re revisiting it for a bit of extra cash and getting Tove on board to do some of the vocal work.

Tim: And I think that video conclusively answers the “is it desire or is it love” question posed by the lyrics, because basically everybody wants to get off with everybody else, which is fine by me as long as they don’t immediately kidnap just anybody who happens to be lying in an empty car park.

Tom: “Here, kneel in this gymasium while a load of people fondle you.” And why is he lying in an empty car park, by the way?

Tim: He was looking at his phone and has just realised what a terrible haircut he’s just had, maybe? Musically, is a re-release justified, and does Tove’s presence make redoing this one acceptable instead of getting on and writing new stuff? Hmm, maaaaybe. It’s an enjoyable track, but then so was the first one.

Tom: As ever, I can’t remember the first one, so seeing it just on its merits: this is a pretty good song. Little bit of tropical-house in there, of course, because it’s 2016 and everyone’s doing that, but yes: this is good. And Tove’s presence is justified entirely by that middle eight.

Tim: On the other hand, you do have to keep people interested in between albums (LOOKING AT YOU SOUND OF ARROWS), and I suppose it’s better than just a plain reissue. I am, ooh, about 60% in favour of this, because yes, that is what it deserves.

Years & Years – Shine

“Oh, this is VERY good isn’t it yes it is”

Tim: Hoping to demonstrate they won’t be one-hit wonders, the BBC’s Sound of 2015 are following up King with this, a lovely number.

Tom: It’s not a Take That cover. That’s a shame.

Tim: Verses: very pleasant, though admittedly not the the most exciting we’ve heard. Everything else about this, though: bloody marvellous.

Tom: So here’s an odd thing: I absent-mindedly only had one headphone in when I started listening to this, and I wasn’t impressed. Then I put the other one in, and blimey: the stereo effect in the verses suddenly really stuck out, in a way that few tracks do these days. An odd thing to notice, I know, but it’s a sign of it not being massively wall-compressed, and that there’s someone with decent creativity mastering it.

Tim: Huh – I’ve not listened to it with headphones, but that’s good to know. Also good is that chorus, as when I hit I was suddenly thinking, “oh, this is VERY good isn’t it yes it is”, because it is. That middle eight as well? Lovely, both the vocal part and the instrumental bit. Then, coming at the end, it goes properly all in and there’s really nothing I can complain about at all.

Tom: Yep, it’s pretty good, this. Not sure it’s be on my regular playlist, but that’s just personal taste rather than any particular complaint — for once, I can absolutely see why you like this one, and I agree that it’s a good track even if it’s not for me.

Tim: Basically, I’m now even happier than I was that I’ll be seeing them live in about ten days time, while you lot’ll all be watching a slightly dull Eurovision.

Years & Years – King

“For once it’s actually a pretty good choice.”

Tim: Speaking of pointless BBC brands, as we were earlier this week, this lot won this year’s Sound of… poll, and for once it’s actually a pretty good choice.

Tom: Oh! That synth intro surprised me a bit: it sounded almost like a video game soundtrack from ten years ago.

Tim: Some lovely synthpop floating around here, starting calm and gentle and building up to a great big second half that just works so well.

Tom: It sounds a bit like early Hot Chip, if they were working with a guest vocalist. That’s a compliment, by the way.

Tim: Synthpop’s never really been much of a genre that lends itself well to emotional tracks and conveying tight links between lyrics and sounds, but this track gives it a good go.

Example: that “oh-oh-oh” into the chorus, while admittedly not being the most interesting lyrical choice we’ve heard, it sure as hell works well as an intro into that chorus as a pleasing sign of desperation. Second example: the shortness of breath that appears in the closing “let go” repetitions – just please won’t you LET GO.

Tom: The thing is, I don’t listen to much synthpop — it’s generally a bit too ethereal and downbeat for me — so hearing something like this is really quite refreshing.

Tim: If I were to compare it to anything I’d say: album track by The Sound of Arrows (speaking of whom, WILL YOU PLEASE GET ON WITH IT), deemed too loud and out of the ordinary for their standard fare, but still very, very good. All in all, I’d say this is a thoroughly deserved winner. Congratulations, lads.