The song is out now via Transgressive, with a black and white video directed by Kit Monteith that includes a cameo from Stipe through a flickering TV screen. It follows a difficult relationship between a father and son, with Blanco playing the son’s partner.
The reflective and melancholic track includes a chorus with the lyrics “Cause I hate to see you so low / I hate to see you all fucked up / I hate to see you so numb / These family ties tend to suck”. Stipe joins Blanco on this chorus and contributes his own verse too.
‘Family Ties’ is produced and arranged by FaltyDL, Blanco’s executive producer, and was recorded in Lisbon and New York City.
“Having Michael Stipe sing and collaborate on this duet I wrote was a once in a lifetime moment!” Blanco wrote on Instagram. “Thank you Michael for believing in my songwriting and believing in me! You are an icon and I am blessed to have worked with you.”
In a statement (via Rolling Stone), Blanco said: “‘Family Ties’ is the first song where I sonically found my voice and I mean that in a very literal way. It’s the first song in my entire career where I am singing, I don’t rap.
“I wrote this song about the relationship between my ex-boyfriend and his father that has had bouts of mental illness. When the person you love is going through a situation that you can’t alter in any way, or help or be active in trying to correct it not only hurts them but it hurts you.”
‘Family Ties’ is Blanco’s first new song since mini-album ‘Broken Hearts & Beauty Sleep’. Last year, they shared a new video for their recent Blood Orange collaboration ‘It’s Not My Choice’, directed by Dev Hynes himself.
In a four-star review of the album, NME wrote: “Some of Blanco’s rhymes could be tighter but this ferocious performer commands attention whether they’re chastising a partner for drinking their soya milk on ‘Fuck Your Choices’ or baring their soul on ‘Love Me’. The result: a bold and brilliant step forward.”