Sometimes a band can creep up on you and before you even know their name, you inadvertently know their music. In this case, it's Bastille and the south London band's first album, Bad Blood, already has a punnet of songs that the most casual of music fans will already know and subconsciously like. One snippet of a song in the background of Hollyoaks ('Get Home'), The Vampire Diaries ('Oblivion') or Made in Chelsea ('Flaws') can stick with you, regardless of the drama and lustful glances onscreen.
'Pompeii' is the next single on their list that will lodge itself in your memory tracts. It welcomes you with monk-like chanting and it builds up to a frenzied and joyous chorus of 'eh-ohs' that will take you hostage. 'The Weight of Living Pt. II' and 'Icarus' display the multi-purpose nature of their upbeat songs. In one case, the lyrics are motivational and can soothe inward insanities and on the other hand, the rapturous delivery of every chorus will be catapulted to another level in a live setting.
The appeal of Bastille is very forthcoming and clean cut. Singer, founder and the wonderfully coiffured Dan Smith's voice is distinct and could probably draw blood from a stone, such is his proficiency with capturing the full spectrum of emotions.
Bad Blood, unfortunately, limits the potential that Bastille have so clearly displayed in their mixtapes, Other People's Heartache Part One and Two. Here, pop songs are stripped back, rehashed, turned on their heads and intertwined with dialogue from films like American Beauty, The Breakfast Club, Home Alone and Full Metal Jacket. With the Bastille treatment, Haddaway's 'What Is Love?', David Guetta's 'Titanium', Lana Del Rey's 'Blue Jeans', City High's 'What Would You Do?' and dozens of others are recrafted and reinvented.
Other People's Heartache is easy to pinpoint as a celebration of pop. Every song comes with a 'how did they do that' moment and with that comparison, Bad Blood feels restricted and contained. Individually, songs like 'Laura Palmer' and 'Daniel In The Den', are empowering and engulfing but when placed beside each other, it feels formulaic. The soaring vocals, layered synths and its heart-driven narrative means that the music is not light enough to be categorised as blatant pop and not dark enough to be categorised subtle pop, like Hurts or Bat For Lashes. There is a repetitive beauty to Bad Blood but do not limit them to just that as they are capable of so much more.
Review by Louise Bruton