Years & Years

Palo Santo

Polydor Records

London electropop act Years & Years got off to a running start three years ago when their debut album Communion became one of the fastest-selling debut albums of the year in the UK. They’re certainly thinking big for this all-important follow-up.

Since that early success, helium-voiced frontman Olly Alexander has emerged as an advocate for LGBT rights at a time when the world seems to have gone not just gender fluid but also truth and fact fluid. It’s clearly a time to dream new dreams and Alexander and bandmates Mikey Goldsworthy and Emre Türkmen take the cue with the ambitious and expansive Palo Santo.

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That album title refers to a South American aromatic wood that is burned in spiritual ceremonies but here Palo Santo has also become "a city on a distant planet, on which human beings are a rare commodity, worshipped and idolised by an android society."

Cute. However, if this is a concept album, Years & Years haven’t let high-minded philosophising and artefact get in the way of some actual great tunes that range from euphoric dance floor rushes to music for a car ad gravitas. It’s spiritual, glittering and monumental and in a world of quick fix gratification, Palo Santo is that rare thing - a well-sculpted pop album that challenges and demands your attention. ***

77:78

Jellies

Heavenly

The  curiously titled 77:78 is the new project from Aaron Fletcher and Tim Parkin, founding members of modern psychedelists The Bees, who, alas, vanished after their last album in 2010. Fletcher and Parkin’s rebirth as 77:78 continues to uncover a rich seam of pyschedelia, soul and Syd Barrett eccentricity. Maybe it’s their Isle of Wight base but Parkin and Fletcher really do exist on the periphery. Compass Pass revels in great garage band drumming, while the blissed-out Loved Said (Let’s Go) has the all sinister vibes of The Zombies.

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There’s bold brass on Pour it Out and the lysergic haze of Papers sounds like lounge music heard after one two many cocktails. Jellies explodes with grin-inducing melodies and sincerity. More 67:68 than 77:78 really but think Brian Wilson and Syd jamming with the Beta Band and Beck and you’ve got the idea. Play this little beauty enough and the heatwave could last all year. ****

The Innocence Mission

Sun on The Square

Bella Union

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There may not be a purer sound in pop right now than The Innocence Mission. The veteran Pennsylvanian trio, whose songs have been covered by Sufjan Stevens and Sam Beam of Iron and Wine, have been around since 1989 and Sun on The Square is their tenth album. It spins a web of winsome beauty, with Karen Peris’s tremulous and honeyed vocals alighting on homespun acoustic guitars and hesitant piano chords. It’s fragile, wispy and haunting orchestral folk without sounding tweely sadcore. Who knows what Peris is singing about on these delicate and enthralling songs but there are moments here where The Innocence Mission sound like they’re going to dissolve into the ether at any second. It makes them all the more powerful and beautiful.  ****

Gigs of the week

Friday, July 6

Barry McCormack,  DC Music Club, Dublin

The The, Mandela Hall, Belfast

Bare 2018, Borris House, Carlow

Eels, Iveagh Gardens, Dublin

Saturday, July 7

The The, Iveagh Gardens, Dublin

Michael Bublé, Croke Park, Dublin

Paul Brady, Ballykeeefe Quarry Ampitheatre, Kilmanagh, Kilkenny 

Sunday, July 8

Queen + Adam LambertThe Boomtown Rats and The Darkness, Marlay Park, Dublin

Monday, July 9

Rufus Wainwright, Cork Opera House

Tuesday, July 10

Rufus Wainwright, National Concert Hall, Dublin

Tune-Yards, Tivoli Theatre, Dublin

At the Drive-In and Brand New Friend, Vicar Street, Dublin

Wednesday, July 11 

Kraftwerk, Live at the Marquee, Cork

Tune-Yards, Róisín Dubh, Galway

Kinfolk and Robert Glasper, The Sugar Club, Dublin

Thursday, July 12 

Bruno Mars, Marlay Park, Dublin

. . . And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead, Button Factory, Dublin

Friday, July 13 

Longitude 2018: J. Cole, Travis Scott, Migos, Tyler, The Creator, Post Malone, Diplo, Khalid, and Joey Bada$$, Dublin

Music on TV

Friday, July 6

Smashing Hits! The 80s Pop Map of Britain and Ireland, BBC Four, 10.00pm

Midge Ure and Kim Appleby discover why certain cities produced their own diverse music and acts.

Saturday, July 7

Sound of Cinema: The Music That Made the Movies, BBC Four, 11.00pm

The Hollies: Look Through Any Window, Sky Arts, 3.00pm

BB King: Live in Concert at the Royal Albert Hall, 12.00am

Sunday, July 8

Paul Simon: Live at Hyde Park, Sky Arts, 8.15pm

XTC: This is Pop, Sky Arts, 12.30am

Monday, July 9

Kate Bush: Sensual World, Sky Arts, 2.13am

Friday, July 10

The Story of Funk: One Nation Under a Groove, BBC Four, 11.30pm

Bob Marley: The Making of a Legend, Sky Arts, 9.00pm

Ireland’s Top 10 albums

New 1 Scorpion  - Drake Island

New 2 High As Hope - Florence & The Machine (EMI)

1 (last week) 3 (this week) The Greatest Showman - Motion Picture Cast Recording (Atlantic)

New 4 The Now Now - Gorillaz (Parlophone)

4 5 Staying At Tamara's - George Ezra (Columbia)

5 6 Divide - Ed Sheeran (Asylum)

6 7 Beerbongs & Bentleys - Post Malone (Republic Records)

2 8 Question Mark - Xxxtentacion (Bad Vibes Forever)

8 9 Speak Your Mind - Anne-Marie (Asylum)

New 10 Appetite For Destruction - Guns N' Roses (Polydor/UMC)

Ireland’s Top 10 singles

1 (last week) 1 (this week) Shotgun - George Ezra (Columbia)

2 2 Solo - Clean Bandit Ft Demi Lovato (Atlantic)

New 3 Don't Matter To Me - Drake Ft Michael Jackson (Cash Money/Republic Records)

5 4 Youngblood - 5 Seconds Of Summer (Capitol)

New 5 Nonstop - Drake (Cash Money/Republic Records)

10 6 Girls Like You - Maroon 5 Ft Cardi B (Interscope)

14 7 Rise - Jonas Blue Ft Jack & Jack (Positiva)

7 8 Back To You - Selena Gomez  (Interscope)

9 9 I'll Be There - Jess Glynne (Atlantic)

13 10 I Like It - Cardi B/Bad Bunny/J Balvin (Atlantic)

Chart courtesy of IRMA

Alan Corr @corralan