Bastille, often stylised as BΔSTILLE, are an indie pop/alternative rock outfit formed by Dan Smith back in 2010. Bastille was originally a solo project, but was later expanded to include other members, specifically Will Farquarson on Guitar/Bass, Kyle Simmons on Keyboards and Chris ‘Woody’ Wood on Drums. To date they’ve released four studio albums, including the one we are here to review today.
I remember actually hearing Bastille pretty early on, but I didn’t really start following them until the release of their debut album ‘Bad Blood’ which you may or not remember, was released on the 4th March 2013. This album featured a few truly standout tracks, including the titular ‘Bad Blood’ but what I remember most is of course ‘Pompeii’ which I still regularly listen to. Anyway, today, I will be reviewing their most recent release ‘Give Me the Future’ which dropped on the 4th February 2022, via EMI Records.
‘Distorted Light Beam’ opens with a synth driven beat that bleeds into the vocals, Dan’s voice has a really nice melody to it, he handles the highs and lows really well, the fast and the slow, and just captures you with his performance. I liked the beat and rhythm to this track, it’s not relentlessly hammering but just a well balanced track that builds and is instantly memorable. I’m a fan of electronic infused performances and this incorporates it really well, without overusing it.
‘Thelma + Louise’ opens with a slow building tone that blends out into a flurry of percussive tones which eventually merge into a more consistent beat, and again the synthy elements work well both within the song as a whole, but also compliment Dan’s vocals. He just has a really nice voice, emphatic and pleasant, soft but with power and weight behind it. I really liked the rhythm of this track, it has a really nice beat and you just kinda get caught up in it. I mean I listened to this maybe three or four times in one go, just letting the melody wash over me.
‘No Bad Days’ has a synth warbling, building behind the vocals, it creates a nice structure, like a breath, that flows throughout. Speaking of the vocals, this has some superb vocal elements, he even makes saying the word ‘Fuck’ repeatedly nice to hear. Even as the heavier percussion takes over and replaces the warbling tone, there’s still this sort of rise and fall of the backing instrumentals that work really well. This has a lovely chord section, electronic piano notes flowing over and bridging the gap between the heavier beats, it all works really well.
‘Brave New World (interlude)’ has a beautiful melody, it just fills up your heart until it threatens to burst, and reminds me of something Audrey Hepburn sang. Maybe I’m just partial to an interlude but I really liked this little break from the larger songs, and it really stuck in my mind.
‘Back to the Future’ kicks right off the back, it has a nice energy to it, it follows right off the bat melodically from the interlude, before fleshing out, and adding to the tune. It gets heavier, bassier and obviously the vocals are superb. This has some deeper, more low-toned vocals, and Dan manages those with equal skill to what I’ve seen from him previously on this album. Even though I’m more partial to softer, and sometimes sadder tracks, occasionally a higher tempo, higher energy track like this one will just capture me, and man did this one just get stuck in my head.
‘Plug In…’ opens with a synth infused vocal section, a robotic voice that blends out to Dan’s natural voice, and he builds in speed, you can feel the momentum as he rattles off the lyrics, it’s actually really impressive, and he even balances it out with some slower vocal sections. I usually wait until I’ve listened to the album a few times before declaring a favourite but I’m calling it early, because this track is just superb, it’s got a great vibe, great melody, clever and memorable lyrics and just a really strong balance of vocals and instrumentals that are just superb.
‘Promises (with Riz Ahmed)’ kicks off with some spoken word poetry, it’s sharp and I’m always partial to a little bit of something different. I was already familiar with Riz, but this was something else, an amazingly profound and poignant performance that really captured me. I make no promises but I am certain you’ll like this track, and it takes the number two slot, for my personal favourites on this album.
‘Shut Off the Lights’ starts off slow, electronic strings and light percussion building up, the vocals have a vibrancy and energy to them and that all builds as we progress. I will say after the last track, I maybe needed a bit more warming up before jumping into something with this level of energy but nonetheless it’s a really strong track that has a really nice catchy hook to it. I will say the horns right at the end really elevated this track, I mean I already liked it but I’m a sucker for anything a little bit out there like that.
‘Stay Awake?’ opens with an AI type voice delivering some lyrics which I relate to perhaps a bit too much, this blends into more superb vocals, this one really has a nice rhythm to it, I love tracks with a nice back and forth, even if it’s just playing with the balance between vocals and instrumentals and this one really has that. I talked about my experiences with Bastille before but seriously, each track on this album makes me not only love their music even more, but man Smith really knows how to sing, in fact not just sing, but perform.
‘Give Me the Future’ opens with tech noises, and sparks and continues to build this sort of futuristic vibe that is present throughout the album. I really like that it’s not too heavy handed either, instead we are taken on a journey throughout each track, it creates a narrative, and an opinion and does it all through the performance, which sounds simple but is executed so well. I usually only talk about my top pick for an album, occasionally if there’s a really strong contender I’ll also mention my second favourite, but breaking my own rules for a moment, in an album full of amazing songs, this track is my third favourite.
‘Club 57’ has a sort of radio interference/distortion feel, that opens into some fresh, clean vocals, and some light strings backed up by some sharp percussion. I think that Dan’s voice is remarkably flexible, I think his natural tone is higher pitched, but whether he’s performing in a falsetto or his natural register he really makes his music worth listening to.
‘Total Dissociation (interlude)’ has a little beepy robot noise, so I instantly love it, this one is far more synthy and ambient than the other interlude, it’s also much busier, a fusion of elements, it brings it classical strings before cutting off abruptly, which was a nifty little concept, as it works with the sort of malfunctioning tech vibe of the album.
‘Future Holds” (featuring Bim)’ finishes us out on a softer note, the synthy element present in some of the songs makes an appearance but doesn’t overwhelm or overshadow the natural vocals. Overall this is a very pure song, and it has some nice lessons, plus the vocal contributions from Bim were superb, her voice is sensational and added some extra weight and soul to the final track, really sending us out on a high note.
So that’s what I thought of Bastille’s album ‘Give Me the Future’ and if you want to check that out for yourself then head on over to Spotify. While you’re at it, make sure and support the band by following them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
First Published on: https://offtherecordblog.org/
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