Bastille are back, bigger and better than before. After being introduced to Bastille by FIFA 13 with The Weight Of Living Pt. II and after hearing lead single and festival favourite Pompeii, Bad Blood quickly found its way into my iTunes. However, following the success of their first album, Bastille’s second album provides far more mature lyricism with a more developed sound. Their latest 19 track album on the whole is far more consistent than the debut, but the success of their first likely gave them the confidence boost to produced the more developed follow up. However, despite some labelling them as the current kings of indie pop, Bastille take influence from a wide range of genres with hints of R&B, hip-hop and even 90s club classics. But despite the general undertone of power pop, this is an album with depth, meaning and honesty. Now picked by many to be the next Coldplay, Bastille’s second album adds to their catalogue more stadium pop hits.
The maiden track and lead single Good Grief opens with the omniscient female voice-over questioning”so what would you little maniacs like to do first?” followed by an introductory drum and an incredibly catchy bass line. Although it may not be a bass line to make Flea of the Chilli Peppers worry, isolating the bass line here proves from the offset that Bastille are more than just power poppers but well influenced musicians with a slight feel for funk. But it’s the juxtaposition of disheartening and somewhat melancholy lyrics alongside groovy rhythm and an incredibly catchy melody that transform this song into a clever an intriguing pop floor filler.
It is the second track that is the pinnacle of the album.
“How can you think you’re serious? Do you even know what year it is?”
Political commentary is probably not the first thought when thinking about Bastille but here the band creates some of the most relatable lyrics to be heard on new releases. In a year of what seems to be political madness, arguably the year of the unexpected underdog, it has left many feeling as if they are living in a wild world, this being a sentiment that Dan explicitly relates to. The Currents however is not all doom and gloom, as despite the reflective and doubtful tone of the lyrics (and a Cold War propaganda insert) the band produce exactly what is expected of them, yet another indie-pop floor filler. Much the same can be said about Warmth. Again the band disguises the depressingly obsessive media-centric view of the world and the political apathy of many into an upbeat pop song which is one of my favourites of the album.
But the album is not an hour of non-stop dance tracks. Stripped back and slower songs such as An Act Of Kindness and Four Walls bring diversity and depth to the album, whilst bringing a greater sense of raw truth too. Yet to me, the first of the two songs also weirdly seems to have the potential to be remixed into something that would comfortably sit on the shelf next to Robin S. But for me, the best example of Bastille’s diversity is found in Two Evils. The rawest song of the album features little more than Dan’s haunting vocals accompanied by a single guitar. This to me is not Bastille. But likewise, this is not a bad thing. The anxiety and fear heard in Dan’s vocals reminded me (as others suggest) of Coldplay. The iconic and provoking sound of Chris Martin rang through here and sparked glimpses of earlier emotional Coldplay hits.
It would be weird for Bastille not to make explicit reference to mythology or literature. Luckily, they do both. Power, a song about not giving up, brings reference to Dan’s Achilles heel, bringing a strange continuity from the first album and developing a sense of character for the band. But greater reference is drawn out in Send Them Off! with explicit reference to Shakespeare’s Othello, and despite not having any ‘eh eh oh’s’, out of the songs on the album, in my opinion this is the best supporter for Pompeii and a contender for the best track on the album.
On certain editions of the album, Winter Of Our Youth is the final track, this being a worthy ending. Although this may not fit with the typical upbeat Bastille feel, it provides a great overview and conclusion to the album where Dan tries to escape back to the certainty of his youth and avoid the unknown future. With reference throughout the album of what seems to many as quite a pessimistic political year, Dan’s more optimistic references to the past show his way of escaping to a better place is by looking back. But despite Dan looking back for hope and better times, the album certainly has moved the band forward from the debut and provides great hope for the bands future.