tue 03/10/2023

Album: Bastille - Give Me the Future | reviews, news & interviews

Album: Bastille - Give Me the Future

Album: Bastille - Give Me the Future

Dan Smith's pop success story delivers a sometimes persuasive spec-fic concept album

Lukewarm on some of the music but that's one helluva cover

Since exploding to fame a decade ago with the single “Pompeii” and its parent album Bad Blood, Bastille have maintained impressive success on both sides of the Atlantic. To this writer’s ears, the bombast of their early music was off-putting, and the voice of songwriter and frontman Dan Smith unpleasant.

Their fourth album contains a good chunk of more-ish electro-pop, but I can’t handle the cuts with horrible Eighties stadium choruses, major key cheese, and showboating by that breathy, whooping, and very particular voice. Overall, though, Give Me the Future feels like a grower, especially if you don’t share my aversion to those details.

It's loosely themed, as the title hints, around the future, and is often lyrically sharp. “We ain’t nothing but the things we’ve seen, plug me in,” run the lyrics to the sardonic, Philip K Dick-favoured title track, while on the pleasingly cynical, dystopian, yet finally hopeful epic “Plug In…”, Smith sings, “Hollywood has painted us a fucked-up fate/Say you’ll resurrect me as a young deep fake.” Both songs have legs; the tiniest snifter of indie spirit and Daft Punkiness glued to longing, catchy melodies. Working with mega-songwriters-for-hire such as Adele compadre Ryan Tedder and Britney/Gaga kingpin Rami Yacoub has clearly helped nail things down tight.

Actor/rapper Riz Ahmed pops in for minute-and-a-half long word-flow “Promises”, slow-dancing towards the apocalypse, and the Afro-funkin’ kitsch sci-fi “Back to the Future” has persuasive pop heft, as does maudlin Eighties yacht rock groover “Stay Awake”, and the doomy synth-disco of opener “Distorted Light Beam”. The rest, you can keep, the voice is too quaveringly irritating on the likes of “Thelma and Louise” and, as for the upbeat choral M.O.R. horrors of “Shut Off the Lights” and “Future Holds”, they ooze treacly ickiness and are best left alone.

Crassly summed up, the ratio of six tasty-ish tunes to five horrors means this one’s worth picking over.

Below: Watch the video for the "treacly icky" Bastille song "Shut Off the Lights" (unfortunately, none of the better ones from the album are on YouTube at the time of writing)

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