01 February 2014

bad blood || bastille || 2013

I had to wait for the right day to listen to this album, since I knew it would be a moody experience. Prior to my full listen, I'd only heard "Pompeii" and "Laura Palmer," so I was expecting brooding, full-wall-of-sound indie pop that really only works when it's grey outside, and by that benchmark, I'm a satisfied customer.

"Pompeii" is such an unlikely radio hit in 2013, but damn is it refreshing to finally see some new faces charting well on the Hot 100 instead of the career tributes we've been stuck with for the last 6 or 7 years. Every now and then a song like this pops up, something that's unique enough to briefly become a massive hit, but then we never hear from the artist again (see: Tinie Tempah, Taio Cruz, Far East Movement, etc.). I fear that's the path our dear Bastille is headed for, but I can still hope for the best. The song's true signature is the chanting riff that drives through most of it, which I haven't heard since the '90s.

Unfortunately, one of the pratfalls of creating a unique sound is that it's easy to create an album of 12 songs that run together and are indistinguishable. Lorde is an excellent example of someone who escaped this trap, but Bastille seems to fall right into it, at least for the first half of their album. "Things We Lost In The Fire" and "Bad Blood" are both mid-tempo and pretty forgettable. The production on "Overjoyed" ventures into Owl City territory.

My ears didn't particularly perk up again until "Oblivion," the first true ballad on the album. Vocalist Daniel Smith's performance isn't really different here than on the rest of the tracks, but it's a nice change of pace to hear him without loud instrumentation and backing vocals.

"Flaws" could become a college romance anthem if it reaches the appropriate audience. It's by far the most interesting lyrical content on the album, wherein the singer challenges his lover to drop all pretense and have a completely unguarded moment together.

My only complaint about "Laura Palmer" is that there isn't more direct allusion to the brilliant Twin Peaks. It's a pretty song though, and certainly follows the same sonic formula as "Pompeii." The music video is also worth a watch.

Bastille definitely creates a mood with this album and remains consistent through and through. It's worth a listen on a melancholy day.