Over the last few years, regardless of your point of view on them individually, artists like Carly Rae Jepsen, Beyoncé, Taylor Swift, Rihanna, and Lorde have each re-centered pop to suit them, making genre-redefining records that were both radio-friendly and critically acclaimed. They've done so with audacity and flamboyance, often creating entire universes around themselves, to define each new era from their last.
Male acts, overwhelmingly, have not kept up, lagging behind in the theatricality and imagination stakes (Justin Timberlake's attempt to redefine himself earlier this year fell amazingly short), and while it's important that pop remains the highly visible, musical platform where women can thrive, it is interesting to consider what men who are willing to embrace the genre at its most visual, creative, and immersive might also do. Right now, the pop world is ripe for newer, forward thinkers to take center stage. For my money, in 2018, along with artists like Troye Sivan and Khalid, we'll begin to see the Olly Alexander-led Years & Years do just that.
Today Years & Years are back with "Sanctify," their first new single since last year's "Meteorite." The track premiered today on Annie Mac's Radio 1 show and you can now hear it above, and watch the accompanying video. While no album has been announced as yet, it seems likely that "Sanctify" forms the first chapter in a brand new era for the group. While their bright sound is still there (anyone else hear the distinct Britney influence?) shining away as glossy as ever, what's really fascinating is their commitment to a full concept and aesthetic in a way that has mostly been embraced by woman popstars. With a visual set in a dystopian future where humans are captured and made to dance for the entertainment of androids, Years & Years are clearly not doing things by halves. And I've got to say, in this case, more is more.
Correction: A version of this post originally misidentified the radio show that premiered "Sanctify."
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