Album Review: Bastille – Bad Blood

Bastille

At a time when it’s being hinted that the guitar bands are on the return, Bastille offer a kind of halfway house.

Bastille came together in 2010 and was effectively a solo project of singer-songwriter Dan Smith. The name Bastille is because Smith was born on Bastille Day, on the 14th of July. When Dan had the realisation that it was the band format he wished to pursue, he got together 3 other members before signing to Virgin Records, as the band Bastille, on the 1st of December 2011.

Bastille aren’t a purely electronic band nor does their music only feature electric guitars, it’s a carefully crafted balance and there’s flashes of each on show here and I like that, a sound that’s tricky to categorise is always a good thing in this day and age.

Before you’ve even listened, think alt-J or even in parts the vocal performance of Coldplay’s Chris Martin and you’ll start to have an idea of what to expect.

Bad Blood has elements of 80’s Tears For Fears particularly on the song Oblivion, a vocal led ballad with 80’s stylistic samples throughout and a harmony reminiscent of Howard Jones, in fact it really reminds me of Imogen Heap’s Hide And Seek.

The problem with Bad Blood and Bastille is, for fans to pigeonhole their genre, they would love Coldplay’s, Arcade Fire’s and Ed Sheeran’s fanbase but they just don’t quite sound enough like any the above to reproduce the music emotion but don’t write this album off quite yet.

Bastille are getting there slowly and for a band who sound so like this to get an early single straight into No.2, in the Official Chart, is no mean feat.

It’s a work in progress and with every little step comes more opportunity. More recently they’ve supported Emeli Sande and Two Door Cinema Club on tour and been included on the UK TV show Made In Chelsea soundtrack, increasing their marketability to their target audience.

I’d class Bad Blood as indie-alternative-pop, ok, they are a tad cult in places but who doesn’t want to try and be different on a debut album?

The tracks you must listen to:

Track 1: Pomopeii, the current single and a UK No.2, is catchy and has an intro like nothing out there in radio land presently, part of the appeal I suppose, it has the ‘one hit wonder appeal’ that I’m sure they’ll be hoping to shift quickly.

Track 9: Flaws, was the last single and despite not really being picked up by more than a few indie radio stations has something compelling about it, a raw honesty and with more electronic than Pompeii. It shifts their appeal in another different direction.

Track 6: The Weight Of Living Part II, is very 80’s and a little strange sounding at first but when that chorus hook drops, the whole song comes alive, it shouldn’t work but it so does.

Track 4: Overjoyed, has alt-J written all over it but despite that this is a wonderfully rich song with an interesting yet simple rhythm, could this be a future single release? I’d buy it.

Track 10: Daniel In The Den, I don’t mean to continue to compare but this is Dan Smith’s Ed Sheeran sound-a-like song. It’s on this song I’m thinking of a modern day copy and that’s not a good thing.

Never before when reviewing a brand-new album have I made so many other artist comparisons, which doesn’t bode well in the slightest. I want to like it more but there are too many barriers in the way.

I like Bastille’s Bad Blood but it could do with a little more self-direction rather than so much influence from other modern day artists and bands. It’s a great first effort and a huge achievement.

In time to come I’d sure Bastille will be ‘the’ comparison but for now this band are definitely ‘one to watch’ in 2013 and Bad Blood is sure to get a Mercury Music Prize nomination come September.

6/10

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About frankmusicfirst
I'm always looking for music writing opportunities and my credentials are as follow... Based in London, I'm the Head of Music for a radio & TV station that provides entertainment to the British Forces and their families around the globe. I used to be a radio presenter/producer from 1991 until the end of 2008 and have worked and lived in 21 countries. The more interesting locations were Iraq (twice in 2003 also 2005 & 2008) and both Kosovo and also Bosnia both for 4 tours, which is actually more than most serving military people I know. I have also lived and worked in Germany, Cyprus, Gibraltar, The Falkland Islands, Belize and many other locations. So I've worked in this industry for over 23 years, which pretty much qualifies me to be MUSIC MAD. I'm a drummer, I've also produced albums and interviewed hundreds of bands and artists since the mid 90's, including: Stereophonics, The Cranberries, Crash Test Dummies, Manic Street Preachers, The Charlatans, Mexicolas, Dodgy, The Verve, Ash, Reef, Shakespears Sister, Glasvegas, Film School, British Sea Power, Sarah McLachlan, OMD and many more. When I'm not working, or at a gig or festival, you will mostly find me at home, with my headphones loud, reviewing albums or writing about music in general for many different music websites worldwide. I'm in the fortunate position to be at the forefront of the British music industry, I receive music on pre-release, which means that I can review it before it's available to buy. Just because you haven't heard of a band it doesn't mean they're no good. Your unique opinion is everything, stand by it.

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