Genre: Indie Rock
Producer: Dan Smith, Mark Crew
Release Date: September 9, 2016
In 2013 the British, four-piece indie rock band Bastille released their debut album Bad Blood. The single “Pompeii” that launched the band into the charts with appropriate explosiveness: any random stranger off the streets would recognise the song’s intro chant if needed. Bad Blood showed that the band had a good ear for other catchy singles too, like “Things We Lost in the Fire”, “Icarus” and “Laura Palmer”. However, the band couldn’t really deliver on the deeper cuts of the album, leaving the aftertaste of the record slightly lackluster.
And now, more than three years later, Bastille has released their sophomore studio album, titled Wild World. The opening track, rather aptly named “Good Grief”, starts of with a very “Under Pressure” -like bassline and clap. Happy catchy music combined with the lyrics about grieving the passing of your loved one create a very Raveonettes-like juxtaposition. Already here it becomes apparent that Bastille’s biggest strength has not been lost: they’re still able to craft masterfully catchy, bombastic choruses. This trend continues throughout the album, from the fast-paced “The Currents” to the brass-heavy “Send Them Off!”. Some tracks like “Blame” and “Winter of Our Youth” try to recreate the magic of “Pompeii” with similar chants, and despite not quite reaching the same heights the tracks work tremendously.
Unfortunately, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows in the wild world Bastille presents us (Then again, if it was all sunshine and rainbows, ‘Wild World’ probably wouldn’t be an appropriate title for the album). Many of the songs open with curious soundbites from retro movies, old propaganda videos and public service announcements, among other things. Most of these clips do not seem to serve any purpose, and feel like superfluous way to needlessly extend the album runtime. “Warmth” features a catastrophically bad synth sound that resembles a distorted kazoo, turning otherwise decent track into infuriating one. Besides, Bastille has never been too great in the ballad department, and Wild World is no exception. The slower songs like “Four Walls” and especially “Two Evils” are absolute snoozefests: the former sounding like the subdued, quiet C-part waiting for the crescendo that never comes; the latter is just the vocalist Dan Smith wailing in competition with the lonely guitar, proving that even a skilled singer has a range which can be painfully broken. “Fake It” manages to break out of the stunned ballad-delirium halfway through, and thus ends up half-decent. Thankfully these moments are few and far between.
Despite a couple of misfires and a lack of the next true “Pompeii”, Wild World is massively better than Bastille’s first full-length effort, showcasing a greatly evolved band that has spent the three years between the albums refining their abilities to their peak. If they continue in this direction, their next one might be a true masterpiece.