Bastille have created for themselves the indie-pop dream. As well as a loyal following of fans who downloaded the first EP/mixtape Other People’s Heartache back in 2011, their quickly-escalating popularity has earned them favour among the masses and catapulted them clear from their quirky, cultish starting point. Frontman Dan Smith’s self-effacing but regular communication with the fans via twitter can take significant credit for holding onto followers old and new.
Debut album Bad Blood is the cherry on top of a cake composed of sold-out touring, two preceding EP/mixtapes and four well-publicised singles that have enjoyed extensive radio play. Those singles are joined by live-playing long-timers Get Home and Icarus, which collectively create an album of brightly surging melodies, deliciously predictable piano and belting backing vocals.
Smith’s boyish but strong, crystal clear vocals do two things for the record: mark it as legitimate pop, and distances it from the auto-tuned multitude that usually represents the genre. Thoughtful lyricism greatly aids the latter cause, and Bad Blood is stuffed full of them. The messiness of humanity is confronted head-on in opener Pompeii as Smith reimagines the crumbling city and asks of the rebuilding “where do we begin/the rubble or our sins?”. The imperfect wonkiness of human nature is explored in thigh-slapping Flaws: “All of your flaws and all of my flaws/they lie there hand in hand/ones we’ve inherited/ones that we learned/they pass from man to man”. Fast-living is admonished and embodied in the Greek myth of Icarus, while Get Home laments the inescapable cycle of seeking satisfaction and settling for a fast fix.
Unlike their pop counterparts, Bastille seem to be reaching beyond the obvious. Departing from the usual practice in content and style has so far done them a world of favours, so here’s to hoping they continue to be left to their own devices.
Bastille made it onto our list of Voices of the Future last year. Read more here.