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'Palo Santo' review: Years & Years' comforting dance pop

Years & Years' "Palo Santo" album cover on

Years & Years' "Palo Santo" album cover on Interscope Records Photo Credit: Interscope Records

YEARS & YEARS

“Palo Santo”

BOTTOM LINE Finding comfort in new-millennium dance pop.

Years & Years have made no secret about the trouble they had making their sophomore album, “Palo Santo” (Interscope).

The British dance-pop trio faced the pressure of following up their debut, “Communion,” and the hit single “King,” which both topped the United Kingdom charts in 2015. To complicate matters, singer Olly Alexander had just gone through a public breakup with Clean Bandit’s Neil Amin-Smith.

Maybe it’s no wonder that the synth-pop band turned to a kinder, gentler time for inspiration — the late ’90s, when Britney Spears, ’NSync and Backstreet Boys ruled the roost.

The first single, “Sanctify,” even opens with what feels like an homage to Spears’ “I’m a Slave 4 U.” On songs like “All for You,” they stack Alexander’s vocals so he sounds like a boy band all by himself.

While those songs may be fun and well-crafted, they pale in comparison to the few times that Years & Years step out of the nostalgia machine. On the playful “If You’re Over Me,” which owes more to Andy Grammer than Justin Timberlake, Alexander manages to confront his relationship issues while still keeping things light. That shows Years & Years will likely have more to offer in the future.

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