Bastille ‘Bad Blood’ - Album Review
Before I start, I should mention that I had to steal this album online to review it, because nobody at the radio station actually gave me the album. Sorry Bastille.
I’ve been following Bastille since their 2011 single ‘Flaws’, and the even better B side ‘Icarus’, which thankfully both made to the album. However I have yet to see the band live, as neither my best friend nor ex girlfriend could really be arsed to go see a small band called Bastille play on a wednesday night at a bar. There was the time once where a friend of mine actually supported Bastille, but again I didn’t fancy being the lonely guy at the bar with a plastic pint of beer and my coat still on.
Starting out as a solo project in 2010 for songwriter Dan Smith, Bastille have just finished their tour supporting Two Door Cinema Club nationwide, and with 3 EPs under their belt, 2 brilliant (previously) free to download mixtapes, Bastille are about to drop their debut album ‘Bad Blood’. Referring to Bastille in plural however doesn’t feel quite right as the band mostly revolves around vocalist Dan Smith, who is credited on the album for writing the songs and co-producing it with Mark Crew who produced Bastille’s previous work.
So far Bastille have gained traction in the online music scene with their singles and mixtapes that host covers of everything from a mash up of ‘Requiem for a Dream’ together with Lana Del Rey’s ‘Blue Jeans’ and ‘eurodance’ group Snap’s ‘Rhythm is a Dancer’ and even David Guetta’s ‘Titanium’. While the official download link has been removed from Bastille’s site, I highly recommending searching a bit harder for these two albums entitled ‘Other People’s Heartache Part 1 and 2’, or simply finding them on youtube. It’s worth listening to these mixtapes to hear Bastille’s approach to pop music, as Bastille are a pop band through and through, however with their own approach to the style.
You may have heard their main single ‘Bad Blood’ and its ska influenced rhythm either on Radio 1 or from your flatmates bedroom. Maybe you heard ‘The Weight of Living Part II” on Fifa 13’s soundtrack, but that doesn’t mean the album can’t surprise you. Album opener ‘Pompeii’ has been around online for almost a year, but its still enjoyable hearing Smith attempt to fit too many syllables in the chorus than necessary, in the lyrics “How am-I-gonna-be an optimist about this”.
While 6 of the album’s 12 songs were previously available from EPs or in some form or another, many have been rerecorded, subtly developed and built upon, as Smith becomes more confident in his own style found in these mixtapes. One notable example is ‘Icarus’ which manages to use the character of Icarus from Greek mythology as a metaphor for somebody who is getting too big for their boots. “Look who’s digging their own grave/ that is what they all say” Smith sings, before saying “Standing on the cliff face/ Highest foe you’ll ever grace/ It scares me half to death”. Perhaps here Bastille are using this metaphor as a precursor to their own hype surrounding them on the blogosphere, anxious of flying too close to the sun, burning up and falling, as many bands do when a debut album is released. Bastille however manage to play it cool and play to their strengths. For a band that fits into the “indie pop” genre, Bastille have the ability to take it back a step, with slower songs that have more space and room to breathe such ‘Flaws’, ‘Get Home’ and ‘Overjoyed’ which is actually mixed in with a faster beat than is necessary, but it works well, and shows their diversity.
Smith’s influences come from varied places in the album. Notably David Lynch’s ‘Lost Highway’ film poster has been copied on the album cover, but also 11th song on the album entitled ‘Laura Palmer’ after a character in Lynch’s 1990 TV show, Twin Peaks. This influence can move Bastille’s lyrics into a somewhat darker surreal territory, after the surreal writer, and with an English degree under his belt, he pulls it off. Smith sings like Alt+J’s Joe Newman, but with lyrics that actually make sense and aren’t about triangles.
This is a fantastic album, and its great to see a band like Bastille start to get the attention they deserve. ‘Oblivion’ asks in the second half of the album “Are you going to age with grace?” and lyrics like this, along with Icarus’ metaphor of success and Pompeii’s question of optimism, move the album to become almost meta. If Dan Smith is really looking at his band in the future, then yes Bastille will age with grace; they’ve already got it.
Stop. Will you.
I’m afraid, Dave.
My mind is going.
I can feel it.
I can feel it.
My mind is going.
I can feel it.
I can feel it
I can feel it…
Hi, How are you?
My names Cameron, I’m from somewhere near Sheffield, studying English and American literature at Birmingham University with a few modules in creative writing dropped about in between.
I might occasionally drop some of that creative writing stuff on here, depends how I feel.