One hell of an album
4th March 2013
Bad Blood is the debut release from Bastille, the latest electro-indie band in the same vein as Passion Pit, The Naked and Famous and Wolf Gang. Bastille are the first band I've started listening to in a long time that I truly love: the two singles Pompeii and Flaws are both played so much that I risk making myself hate them, but they're just so good. So I've been pretty excited for an album simply so I don't ruin my two favourite songs.
The album begins with the most recent single, Pompeii. It's just unfairly good. It's a brilliant song musically and thematically: excellent songwriting such as where do we begin/the rubble or our sins and a catchy as fuck tune make you feel like its a song by the survivors of the famous Italian city destroyed by a volcano. The other single that I love, Flaws, appears later on the album, and is just as catchy as Pompeii if not quite as epic. It does seem to end quite suddenly, but as I listened to the album I realised that this was a case with many of the tracks.
This is my main issue with Bad Blood as a whole: many of the tracks are too short and end abruptly. They do also follow the same old format of verse/chorus/verse/chorus/breakdown/verse and that's a little predictable, but there's a reason that this has been used in songs across the generations, and that's because it works.
Following Pompeii, the album continues strongly with Things We Lost in Fire and the titular track. We're three songs in and we already have three brilliant songs. This album is gold.
Admittedly, the slower tracks aren't great: Oblivion is one of the slower songs on the album, and frontman Dan Smith gets a chance to show off his impressive range. It's mostly piano and violin melodies apart from a strange electronic motif that kicks in halfway through that doesn't ruin the song but certainly doesn't sound like it fits in. Another ballad is Get Home, which I much prefer - it still has some electronic sounds in the background but they fit nicely with the piano and don't jar the song, and I'm not a huge fan of their single Overjoyed.
There's a 2-part song on the album, but for some reason Part II of Weight of Living appears before Part I (how incredibly artistic!). Part I is the stronger of the two, but they're both quite good. Listening to them one after another doesn't make a lot of difference to this.
A few tracks do feel a little bit like filler, but they're still great: These Streets is a fun mid-tempo song that gets your feet tapping, Icarus is also a strong track telling the story of the ancient Greek character that flew too close to the sun, and Daniel in the Den sounds like it could be a Passion Pit song (no bad thing!).
The album definitely ends on a high: I don't know who Laura Palmer is, but she's inspired a hell of a song. In terms of what the songs actually about, I couldn't tell you - "This is your heart/can you feel it?" is a little generic, but meaningless lyrics aside, the music sounds awesome. The Silence is a bit of a misnomer as it has the highest pace of any track on the album by far. It's definitely one of the standouts due to its unique sound and one of the strongest lyrically too: "it is not enough to be dumbstruck/can you feel the silence?" Finally, we close with Laughter Lines: it's another slow song, but rather than the other two trying to be power ballads, it feels like a slow song that Bastille have written themselves, suiting their own style.
So whilst there isn't really anything that betters Pompeii, and some of the tracks are too short and abrupt, on the whole it's an amazing album - one of the best I've heard in a long, long time. It's a shame that Poet, the excellent b-side on the Pompeii EP, didn't make the final cut for the album, but it's not really a problem. The ballads are definitely the weakest tracks, but when Bastille stick to the formula they've made for themselves, they're brilliant.