Bastille: ‘Give Me The Future’ review
The London indie-pop band's fourth studio album is a collection of songs that have the ability to win over those previously lukewarm to them.
“Hey dude. How are you? Just heard Bastille’s new album and I recommend you listen too if you haven’t already, classic Bastille sound with a bit of dystopia mixed into the lyrics, it’s good stuff.” That was a message I received last week from a friend who has a good music taste. Despite not being a Bastille fan – of course I know their standouts, ‘Pompeii’ etc – I trusted his call and dived straight in.
Fast forward four or five days and I am beginning writing this album review with a slice of my favourite track* stuck in my head, singing it aloud every now and again. Evidently then, it made an impact.
Give Me The Future is the indie-pop band’s fourth studio album, released on February 4th this year. Although boasting 13 songs, it is still a relatively short LP – weighing in at just 32 minutes. One of the main reasons I threw myself into this album without hesitation based off just one recommendation is my adoration for ‘Joy’, a single from the English outfit’s previous release Doom Days.
I think I saw them perform this on The Graham Norton Show and it sounded great. Again though, I didn’t listen to their full album despite liking this single. I’d always kept the band at arm’s length, and even been a little dismissive of them. That was until I pressed play here.
As my friend stated, the record has a dystopian feel hence its name and they laid the foundations for this up instantly with the opener ‘Distorted Light Beam’. It has distorted vocals, naturally, and has synths and quite layered sound effects to create a slightly hectic atmosphere.
‘Thelma + Louise’ follows it up with lead singer Dan Smith’s gentle vocals coming to the fore. This one floats through nicely at just over two minutes, reflecting their desire to not waste time getting into the centrepiece. It is this type of song that made me compare young artist Michael Aldag to Bastille in my Live At Leeds 2021 feature.
‘No Bad Days’ is one of the lead singles and has a good, catchy chorus. It ramps up the tech focus with Dan having a heavily autotuned voice for the most part. I like this one.
We are given a lovely, classical-sounding interlude for 27 seconds called ‘Brave New World’ which transitions to a decent tempo dance track called ‘Back To The Future’. This one is lyrically and sonically a dream sequence track as we are told: “Waking life, it lets us down. So close your eyes and melt away.”
“Plug In…” channels Bon Iver like a lot of music tends to of late (I say, having only experienced a small albeit telling sample of them), with Dan going beyond the early atmospheric autotune into rhythmic delivery for the verses and a smooth chorus that caresses the listener.
For another interlude, ‘Promises’ sees Riz Ahmed perform a spoken word poem about the future over subtle musical accompaniment: “A.I. in the sky, humming. The world’s burning, but f*** it.” We move now into the best section of the album, with recent single ‘Shut Off The Lights’ hitting the spot. This one has a euphoric, party-demanding chorus: “Oh you said just ‘Shut off the lights, we don’t need them to dance.’” It makes you want to dance, so it’s achieved its mission. What a great track.
‘Stay Awake?’ begins with a nod to Radiohead’s ‘Fitter Happier’ with a robotic, Alexa-like voice declaring: “Stop the world, I want to get off.” This mini speech quickly fades away and in comes an enjoyable melody that makes up a good song that continues the momentum rather than halts it.
The title track takes the baton from here and its beginning reminds me of a hushed version of Phil Collins’ ‘In The Air Tonight’… It moves away from this reference slightly and into some fair commentary of the current society: “Why would we leave? Miles and miles of fake beauty.”
Now we get treated of the album at track 11, ‘Club 57’. This one is a brilliant pop song with both clever lyrics (I got the keys to the car, you got the keys to my head”) and fun added details like whistling to the beat. Also, it holds one of the catchiest choruses I’ve heard this year: “Is it love, is it l-l-love? Or are we just craving attention? Is it love, is it l-l-love? Or do we just want satisfaction.”
The final interlude ‘Total Dissociation’ packs a punch for a little experimentation lasting 44 seconds. It starts off with a spaceship/satellite sound that goes into some high pitched, heavily altered words that can barely be heard. Then some nice strings and weird technology soundbites wrestle to be the last one heard.
This then catapults us to the closer ‘Future Holds (feat. BIM)’ with the featuring artist providing lovely female vocals duetting on the chorus. On this finale, we see Dan muse about his life approach, laying out his fears as well stating his desire to seize the present rather than worry about the future: “Don’t blink, I’ll miss it all. And dead boys don’t remember. The shit we never did will haunt us. I can’t live fast and die young, obsessing over the future.”
All in all, this is a very decent LP. The album tracks perhaps don’t jump out as essential listening as much as I would like, I must admit. But importantly they still play their role as key components, complimenting the bigger hits and allowing them to shine.
It is a proper album in the sense that it is about the sum of its parts all delivering to make a consistent all-round listen. There are no weak songs, and there is arguably no filler as the three interludes are all purposeful.
I am thankful that my mate let me know about this record as I would have almost certainly either missed its release or shrugged my shoulders when realising its presence. It seems that Give Me The Future has just made me unable to ignore Bastille any longer.