September 15, 2016 Bastille – Wild World (Album Review)
Consisting of the quartet of Dan Smith (lead vocals, keyboards), Kyle Simmons (keyboards, percussion), Will Farquarson (bass, keyboards, guitars), and Chris Wood (drums), Bastille catapulted to commercial popularity in 2013 with the strength of its anthemic, stadium-worthy Pastoral Pop single “Pompeii,” culled from the British Indie Pop band’s debut album released that year. The follow-up arrives three years later, in the form of Wild World, whose slight change of direction is noticeable, but nevertheless still engagingly oozing with Pop tendencies.
Released on September 9, 2016, Bastille’s sophomore offering begins with the funky rhythm and Disco bass dribbles of “Good Grief,” complete with customary claps and cascading vibraphone melody. The mood changes immediately as “The Currents” plays next; a driving uptempo that stands out with its staccato strings, reminiscent of Coldplay’s “Viva la Vida,” both vocally and musically. “An Act of Kindness” then relaxes the listener with its piano-led intro and Smith’s lyrical laments, only to slowly build up into a loose, bluesy jam ending.
“Warmth” is definitely a Synthpop dancefloor stomper, powered by undulating big bass sound and Electroclash synthesizer lines. This will blend in seamlessly with other pioneering strobe lit Synthpop songs such as Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love,” Kylie Minogue’s “The Loco-Motion,” The Human League’s “Don’t You Want Me,” and New Order’s “Krafty.” Then there is the sentimental midtempo “Glory,” whose dramatic pizzicato flourishes, flowing string arrangement, and unapologetic Timbaland echoes make it the progressive highlight of the album, returning it to the soaring heights of 2013’s Bad Blood. Another beautifully structured song comes next, “Power,” with its guitar plucks, subtle distortion, and pulsating bass and drum combo.
The acoustic-oriented Blues-Folk ballad “Two Evils” is an appropriate mid-album track, where Smith’s mix of hoarse low-register vocals and occasional falsettos shines through, which may remind the initiated of similar styling of a-ha’s Morten Harket (“Here I Stand and Face the Rain”) and Coldplay’s Chris Martin (“Fix You”). With its cinematic elements, “Send Them Off!” is worthy of getting included on the soundtrack of a Tarantino film. “Lethargy” is another dive into Electropop territory, but whose sing-along choral melodies connect it to Bastille’s sonic beginnings. “Blame,” on the other hand, is Wild World’s most rocking moment, with a hint of Joan Jett’s black-hearted Rock ’n’ Roll guitar slashes.
Another Synthpop moment in the style of One Republic (“Counting Stars”), “Fake It” engages the listener once again to a pogoing trek to the glittery dance floor. The penultimate “Snakes” follows the same sensibility in 2/4 time on the floor beat. Finally, Bastille finishes off its new album with the soulful, heartbeat, Gospel-flavored “Winter of Our Youth.”
In contrast with the organic, Tribal, and Pastoral sound of its predecessor, Wild World is an excursion into a different, yet related musical spectrum steeped with Synthpop and Cinematic sensibilities. Despite this, Bastille is still able to maintain a sense of familiarity, owing to the consistent vocal trademark of founding member and bandleader Smith. Simply put, Bastille takes its listeners for a joyride from the sparse, sunlit and sweat-drenched stadium of Bad Blood to the intimate, dizzying, and shimmering dance floor of Wild World, without sacrificing fun, style, and musicality. CrypticRock gives the album 4 out of 5 stars.