It's been way too long since we've heard from Years & Years (two years to be exact), but the pop trio have returned with a spectacular new single. Simply titled "Sanctify," the song finds them going in an unexpected but thrilling sonic direction.
Instead of the British-inspired dance melodies that we've come to love from Years & Years, "Sanctify" takes a much sharper turn into dark-pop territory. It has sparse synth elements lifted from the Y2K heydays of Britney Spears and *NSYNC, and expands its chilling, almost ghost-like production as the song goes on in a very cinematic way. The accompanying video elevates the single, with lead singer Olly Alexander being captured by an android society called "Palo Santo" (which is also the name of a South American tree that is used for its healing purposes). There, he is forced to entertain the dystopian community's leaders and choses to dance.
Alexander explains the band's new mindset in a press release:
“I want to take people on a wild and wonderful adventure through my dreams to a world that’s very different from our own. I’ve been thinking about this place for a long time, a place to tell stories from; about identity, sexuality, celebrity and performance. The video for “Sanctify” centers around an audition against the backdrop of a future metropolis called Palo Santo. It’s the first part of a bigger jigsaw puzzle and my hope is that it confuses the hell out of people but also excites them in a mysterious and sensual way. We’ve deliberately hidden lots of different meanings and I want people to come up with their own interpretations, I’m asking people to jump down the rabbit hole with me and let their imagination run free.
The thing I love most about pop music has always been fantasy and escapism so I thought, ‘well I guess I should try and be the pop star I want to see in the world and make the most ambitious and freaky and sexy thing possible’. I’m making these videos because I want to let people inside my brain and because I love living in my own fantasy world (always have, always will) - a place where sexuality and gender are blurred and magic is real. We live in a chaotic and accelerating world, we’re looking at depictions of the future to help us make sense of what’s happening right now. This is my vision of a possible future, one that makes us question what it means to be a human.”
"Sanctify" is the lead single from Years & Years upcoming sophomore album, whose release date or title has not been revealed yet. It comes after the trio's stellar debut album, 2015's Communion. Since then, they've shared one-off songs like "Hypnotized" (featured in Baz Luhrmann's short film The Secret Life of Flowers), “Meteorite” (found on the Bridget Jones’ Baby soundtrack), and a cover of Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now."
Below, watch Madilyn Bailey discuss her new "Tetris" single, favorite memes, Get Out and more: