Between 1644 and 1647, the self-appointed Witchfinder General, Matthew Hopkins, was responsible for the hanging of more people for the crime of witchcraft than in the entire 100 years prior. Hopkins’ arrival came at a time when the populations’ general anxieties were fuelled by economic uncertainty and the threat of civil war.
His success was, in large part, a result of the public demand to vilify a single group for the ills that were befalling large swathes of the English countryside. Women suspected of witchcraft became timely and convenient scapegoats. For Leeds based alt-pop band, Polo, this part of English history serves as the starting point for their stunning new single, “Witch Hunt”.
“The Early Modern Witch Hunts were associated with moral panic and mass hysteria,” band member Luke Lount explains. “When the going got tough, witches made for a convenient scapegoat, and thousands of women were murdered as a result. ‘Witch Hunt’ flips the narrative. If we don’t collectively address climate change, there will be no scapegoats – the Witch will hunt us all and we will all suffer the consequences.”
The song captures the macabre tone of scapegoating beautifully. It’s a shadowy slice of electro-pop built from twitchy trap beats and ghostly synth washes. Despite spending its running time creeping in and out of the gloom, at its heart, it’s a captivating pop song that seers itself into the subconscious.