On the 28th of September, 2021, Years and Years released Crave. A new song on the album Night call. The band that now only comprises lead singer Olly Alexander has killed it this year musically. Starstruck’s release led to a remix by none other than Kylie Minogue and a cover of It’s A Sin with Elton John at the BRIT Awards.
All of them have reached critical acclaim. But the question remains as to whether Crave was just as good? Or did it leave a sour taste in my mouth?
Verse 1 and pre-chorus
The song starts enticingly. The beat of the music is strong and punchy, and whilst it is very soft and low at the beginning, as a listener, you can tell this is a dance song. Perfect for the nightclub scene. Once the ten-second instrumental introduces much louder beats to it, the lyrics of the first verse begins.
‘You come in and out of my dreams f*** with my head making me crazy I keep comin' back to the scene back to the bed been contemplating’
Not much to talk about other than it sets the scene of dreaming and wanting to be with someone. There isn’t as much in terms of description, and the storytelling is very simplistic. Whilst I sometimes moan about this, I won’t here. Why? Simply because it's a dance track, you are meant to dance with it and typically, storytelling is minimal. It's working within the genre and doing it well because, honestly, it does make me want to go to a nightclub and pull a wheelie in the centre of the dancefloor.
Got all I wanted but if I'm honest I must confess.
Now the music doesn’t ramp up until the chorus. However, this still sounds like heaven as Olly’s voice becomes more high pitched and with some vecoding to harmonise with sounds great against the thumping beat, especially with the runs on honest and confess. He also manages to make the words rhyme which I admittedly would never have thought of in a million years!
Now we move on to the chorus of which the lyrics are:
The only thing I crave is the pain from you I'll do anything to stay if you want me to baby, I don't ever wanna replace all the heartache for a dream come true the only thing I crave is the pain from you.
This is where Olly’s voice remains in that much high pitch and against the much more weighty tack works well. I feel like the music also speeds up and feels like there’s a second beat added onto what is already there. I find the ‘I crave the pain from you’ exciting and creates a nice gothic subversion from wanting to settle down and have that dreamy head of heels romance and trades it for something rough and in the moment where nothing needs to settle.
The second verse
You said that you'd do me no harm now it's what I want give me what I ask for gone too far for love to remain how can I adore you when your body drives me insane?
The lyrics continue embracing sexuality and sexual experiences in the second verse with ‘You said that you'd do me no harm. Now it's what I want.’ It helps the listener get to grips with the storytelling a bit more.
The second verse goes back to the lyrics being sung in Olly’s standard pitch and tempo. This makes the music go back to its normal rhythm and makes the song sound a bit ethereal with the sound effects that make it sound like you hearing the song in another room. But Crave manages to retain that dance track feeling and doesn’t disengage the listener.
The Bridge and outro
How could you ever leave when you know I crave you? How could you ever leave when you know I would die for you? How could you ever leave? How could you ever leave?
The Bridge (which also serves as the outro of the song) continues the high pitched lyrics. However, it throws a bit of curveball. Usually, in this song, when Olly sings high pitched, the music also speed up. This time it remains at average speed, and the feeling that your hearing it from another room remains.
This keeps the ethereal feel going, but it also adds an extra layer to the song lyrically. The song is also about someone contemplating leaving the relationship when they don’t want it to happen.
At least that’s what happens the first time you hear the Bridge. The second time it's used as an outro, it keeps up with the fast pace of the chorus. It creates a nice contrast which sounds excellent against the rapid beat of the song.
Ultimately Crave explores sexuality and sexual appetite in a brilliant fantasy setting. With the bright, rapid beat, ethereal feeling, and high pitched lyrics, Olly Alexander/ Years and Years create another smash hit.
It follows the dance music genre well whilst providing a simple but easy follow image—four stars from me.
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