“My criteria was that it had to make me move and dance and feel good. The only time I was getting to move during lockdown was when I was making music,” explained Olly Alexander to DIY of ‘Night Call’ - his first Years & Years release as a solo endeavour. And though musically, the project feels no less vital and sparkling due to its diminished numbers, companionship is evidently something that’s been playing on Olly’s mind as well: yes, ‘Night Call’ is record that celebrates the joyous power of the club, but underneath almost every pulsing beat is a barely-concealed ode to getting your rocks off in some form too.
Sex is hardly a new topic for the singer-turned-celebrated It’s A Sin actor. But where, on 2018’s superlative ‘Palo Santo’, there was complexity and subversion written through his relationship with the subject, on ‘Night Call’ both the melodies and the lyrical missives are more direct and to the point. On the album’s title track he’s “vibin’ on your dial tone, one thing on my mind”; ‘Intimacy’’s stripped-back beats soundtrack yearning to tie a partner to a four-poster bed, while ‘Muscle’ is a lusty lip-lick over bassy synth pulses. A horny soundtrack of the the Great Global Hook-Up Drought of 2020/1, the steamy ‘Crave’ is both the record’s highlight and thematic signpost.
Audibly influenced by the ‘80s pop soundtrack that had been filling his head around the making of It’s A Sin, however, musically the album is always taking your hand to the dancefloor rather than leading you straight down to the dungeon. Lead single ‘Starstruck’ was such an irrepressible pop gem that Kylie Minogue hopped on for a remix, while opener ‘Consequences’ sounds like if Michael Jackson was a regular at G-A-Y. Throughout, keys shimmer, the production is bright and sky-facing, with an emphasis on synthetic beats. It makes for an album that’s unsubtle and all the better for it - after all, who gives a toss about subtlety after the last couple of years?
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