The sophomore album by Years and Years, Palo Santo, was released on July 6, 2018 to much critical acclaim. The album title is the creation of the band’s singer Olly Alexander, describing a world where he could be his “freest self, not tied to a gender or sexuality.” The album’s accompanying short-film of the same title, was directed by Fred Rowson and stars Alexander, Judi Dench and cult Thai actor Vithaya Pansringarm amongst others. The film, released simultaneously with the album, depicts Palo Santo as a city on a distant planet, where human beings are a rare commodity, worshipped and idolized by an android society. Olly, along with the final humans, is recruited to perform in a series of bizarre erotic cabarets, for an artificial master known only as The Showman. In speaking of the world of Palo Santo, Alexander stated, “I’ve always loved how pop music is like, an escape; this moment of fantasy. And I really wanted to draw it out to its most extreme length and create this fantasy world to go along with the music because that’s what I’m addicted to. Being able to step into a fantasy every time I go onstage and be a part of something magical.” The tracks on the album have achieved millions of streams and commercial radio airplay, led by “If You’re Over Me”, which Alexander describes as “a song about trying to stay friends with an ex. Spoiler alert – it doesn’t often work. In fact, in my experience, the relationship often ends up ruined. ‘If You’re Over Me’ is about the emotional torture that ensues – meeting up and making out, then breaking up all over again, then making out some more.” Having completed their North American tour earlier in the fall, Years and Years will tour internationally in support of Palo Santo during the early part of 2019.
B-Sides met up with Years and Years during their San Francisco tour stop to talk about the unique perspective of Palo Santo, its inspirations, the live stage interpretation and more. Check out the interview: