February 28, 2022 Bastille – Give Me the Future (Album Review)
The heroics and villainy of technology, dystopia, and the warring factions of reality and surreality. Blurring the lines between reality and virtual insanity, the Brit pop-rockers in Bastille pay homage to our troubled times with their fourth full-length, Give Me the Future, which arrived Friday, February 4, 2022, thanks to EMI Records.
While the band has grown over the past 12 years and their three full-length releases, casual listeners will be happy to hear that there’s not an enormous chasm between hit-single “Pompeii,” from their 2013 debut, Bad Blood, and any of the quartet’s most recent creations. So, if for some reason you missed 2016’s Wild World or 2019’s Doom Days, well, you’re going to be okay heading into the future. But where have you been?
At 13 songs, which includes two instrumental interludes and one Spoken Word offering, Give Me the Future has 10 phenomenal songs that provide the perfect escape from 2022. Executive produced by OneRepublic’s Ryan Tedder, Bastille’s fourth full-length is flashy yet intelligent. Centering around the waking nightmare of our modern times, and a desperate need to break away from the madness that has plunged us into the frigid waters of technology in search of release, the collection amps up the band’s electronic elements as they invite their listeners to consider both the ups and downs of dreaming in digital.
“It isn’t enough to start a riot.” Or so Lead Vocalist Dan Smith proclaims as he leads his bandmates—Kyle Simmons (keys, backing vocals), Will Farquarson (guitar, bass, backing vocals), and Chris Wood (drums, backing vocals)—into the breathy atmospherics of “Distorted Light Beam.” Here, they hold nothing back as they present a dangerously infectious dance through the possibilities that live within our dreams as well as inside our computers and phones. Riding high on these self-edited projections, they evoke Prince’s “When Doves Cry” in the opening notes of the feel-good, radio-ready bop “Thelma + Louise.”
What follows repeats the topics laid out in the pair of opening tracks—escape through our monitors and minds, feeling disconnected to the waking world, fictionalizing ourselves to find self-acceptance—while offering a delicious sonic gumbo. For starters, they find some 1980s inspo amid “Back to the Future,” where they condense a beach party into the front seat of a time-traveling DeLorean. Likewise, “Shut Off the Lights” may feel familiar as it echoes its predecessor with a joyful romp between the sheets, inhaling more sea salt into its lungs. But the retro feels don’t stop there as the foursome tries to use a keyboard to transcend the mundane on the entrancing “Stay Awake?”
Meanwhile, the dark, sultry sway of “No Bad Days” allows Smith’s vocals to soar, paving the way for a stunning piano solo. It is this perfectly placed moment that sets the tone for the elegant “Brave New World,” an instrumental that evokes the feel of the 1930s and old Hollywood glamor—as well as the Huxley novel from which it takes its name. In fact, throughout the remaining tracks, its magical mood will echo back to us in the fever dream of “Give Me the Future,” as well as inside the body of a second interlude, “Total Dissociation.”
These carefully planned nods and winks maintain the cohesion of Give Me the Future as the band experiment with Hip-Hop pacing on “Plug In…” and invite British Actor-Rapper Riz Ahmed to deliver the stellar Spoken Word offering, “Promises.” Of course, there are those tracks that fail to find a twin, such as the fingers-snapping “Club 57” and the epic grand finale, “Future Holds.” Featuring British Electro-Acoustic duo Bim, it pulls together the dustings of funk from “Back to the Future,” but warps itself into something else thanks to a Gospel-worthy choir before signing off on a powerful high.
It’s easy to see that Give Me the Future is a product of the time in which it was made. Neither a condemnation of nor a proud redemption for 2021-2022, the LP simply presses ‘Play’ on social commentary as it sets the stage for Bastille to level up, integrating further electronics and creating some of their most irresistible music, to date. Sure, it might sound like the pristine utopia that we hunt, it’s a thought-provoking call to awareness; urging listeners to open their eyes to the fiction in which we exist and aim for something more.
Much like an invigorating fever dream, Give Me the Future is a spark of speculative fiction that might already be our present reality. For this, Cryptic Rock gives Bastille’s latest 5 out of 5 stars.