top of page
  • Writer's pictureBenjamin Kassel

I'd been hoping for a Years & Years collaboration like "Sweet Talker," and it delivered

Olly Alexander finally making a true house track — alongside Galantis — was an excellent decision in the production of his first solo album.

Today's entry was released as a single in November, and I heard it then, but I listened to it in greater detail this weekend following the release of the full album from which it comes.

I've been a fan of British act Years & Years since I first heard their 2014 single "Desire," which to date remains my favorite release of theirs. The song proved to be a sign of things to come from the then-trio, as they began to craft a catalog with house-laced electronic pop. Now the solo project of singer Olly Alexander, Years & Years released their third studio album, Night Call, this past Friday.

Given my appreciation of "Desire" and my general gravitation towards house music — including a remix of "Desire" by Gryffin — I always had a thought when listening to Years & Years that a full-on collaboration with a house act would be an excellent decision. As "Sweet Talker," their joint release with massive Swedish house duo Galantis proves, I was correct in my assumptions. One of the highlights of Night Call, "Sweet Talker" makes the most of both parties' styles while tying into the album's theme of fast-moving love.

Coming after multiple dance floor-ready songs on Night Call's front half, "Sweet Talker" continues where the first five tunes leave off, beginning with a bright piano line that makes the song's house leanings instantly audible. The general and infectious brightness of the track, complete with high backing vocals and fast-moving string lines, is only appropriate for a song with "Sweet" as the first word in its title, as are the lyrics centered around Alexander's misplaced craving for a (likely former) partner who "always know[s] what to say." Like the confections seen in the music video embedded above, the song's elements induce a rush not unlikely to induce dancing in many listeners, especially once the break arrives.

What makes Alexander's lyrical point of view stick with me is his internal conflict about the titular sweet-talker. Whereas a lot of pop lyrics are more set in either wanting an old flame back or not, "Sweet Talker" finds itself mostly in the middle, often contradicting itself between sentences. The pre-chorus perfectly illustrates Alexander's battle with his emotions; he condemns the sweet-talker for making him "believe / Every lie was a beautiful sound," then he immediately 180s by calling him the "man of his dreams" and asking him where he is now. Even with all the toxicity present in their previous interactions, Alexander still seems to have a spell cast over him, one which soon gives way to an infectiously danceable break.

The chorus and break are where Galantis exhibit their greatest influences. The piano becomes even shorter as well as brighter through the use of a high-pass filter, as Alexander's lyrics lean into the anticipation of some sort of resolution with the final line. A familiar snare drum-and-cymbal buildup launches the song into its violin-driven break. The fast string line fits the song's upbeat mood to a T; it captures the frenzied joy of momentary romantic bliss, while simultaneously making the track distinct from other recent pop-like house releases. It also reminds me of Galantis' 2015 single "Peanut Butter Jelly" in a good way, and, similarly to the Swedish duo's earlier release, it gives the song a bit of a disco flavor.

Some listeners may dismiss "Sweet Talker" because of its radio-friendly sound — as I did at first despite my appreciation for Years & Years — but, like many pop records, a closer look reveals the craft and detail that make it so playable. The track is now a personal standout from Night Call, and I hope it leads to further collaboration between Olly Alexander and house producers.


bottom of page