There’s no doubt that Bastille has a special kind of musical moxy that’s apparent in every possible aspect of their debut album Bad Blood, from their unique and worldly instrumentation to the songs that they chose to include to lead singer Dan Smith’s very European voice. While their music may sound like a UK version of Imagine Dragons, they definitely hold their own when it comes to selling who they are. I guess it was a good choice that Smith decided to go with being in a band instead of sticking to his original endeavor of being a solo artist.
The album begins with their powerhouse hit “Pompeii” and ends with the ethereal bonus track about growing old called “Laughter Lines”. The title track “Bad Blood” is the perfect pairing of telling listeners of an unhealthy friendship and funky-yet-aggravated guitar work and percussion that brings the message to life. While this particular instrumentation is prominent in more than one song (“Things We Lost”, “These Streets”), Bastille incorporates the piano (“Overjoyed”, “Daniel in the Den”, “Laura Palmer”, “Get Home”) and electronic beats (“Weight of Living Pt. I & II”, “Flaws”) as well.
Like “Pompeii”, the chanting and obvious rock aura flow through “Icarus” (which musically sounds like it can be the poster song for the upcoming Olympics) and bonus track “The Silence” (which has less of the chanting but is completely uplifting with its theme of accepting others). “Oblivion” has to be one of the most haunting songs in the setlist because it sounds like Smith could literally be singing this in a church to an audience who may have judged him in the past. The echoing of the vocals along with beauty of the piano and violin bring life to the questions of “are you going to age with grace?”, “are you going to age without mistakes?” and “are you going to leave a path to trace?”.
To be honest, it took me almost the entire summer to actually like “Pompeii” for some odd reason (maybe the chanting caught me off guard?). But once I gained an interest in them, I couldn’t wait for the release of Bad Blood. Plus, their lyrics go so much deeper than they seem. Even though the similarities between Bastille and Imagine Dragons exist, this is still a solid effort for a debut album and it can only get better for them (hopefully). They’re radio-friendly and worldly enough to stick around for awhile.