In April 2012 Bastille were shuffling in line with all the other alternative bands trying to make their mark on the music world. They’d recently gained a contract with Virgin Records but whilst indie-kids and critics were starting to whisper in dark corners about the quartet from London, the rest of the world hadn’t yet caught on to their distinct and melancholy sound. Their remix EPs, Overjoyed and Bad Blood, initially fell on relatively deaf ears unless you were one of those ‘in the know’, but it was the single Flaws, released as a digital download in October 2012, that really gathered some momentum for the band. Fast-forward to March 2013 and Bastille hit the charts head on with the release of their impressive debut album. The rest, as they say, is history.
Refreshingly unique from the outset, Bad Blood is a cracking first album for Bastille, full of narrative fed lyrics and an urgency that speaks directly to the band’s demographic. The songs on the album are the very definition of wearing your heart on your sleeve, something that becomes more and more comforting the longer you listen to them. There’s a vulnerability to Dan Smith’s voice, a warmth and sincerity that carries you through each song.
It kicks off with fan favourite Pompeii, which has an inimitable anthemic feel similar to that of Flaws. The soaring chorus, complete with catchy background chant, is balanced by gentle verses giving the song the highs and lows that are so easy to listen to. Flaws shares the immediacy that Pompeii has, along with a steady, infectious beat that makes it an instant audience pleaser at gigs.
It’s a hard task to distinguish the good tracks from the great ones because Bad Blood is such a consistent album. The title track and Overjoyed remain familiar to anyone who was a fan of Bastille before it was mainstream to be a fan, whilst These Streets and Daniel in the Den may not stand out at first but become all the more satisfying upon every subsequent listen. Oblivion is perhaps the most overlooked and underplayed song on the album, a crying shame for anyone who enjoys its elegantly somber and haunting sound. The latest single to be released from the album, Laura Palmer, has an almost cinematic quality to it, though the same could be said for most of the songs on Bad Blood.
Bastille’s music doesn’t comfortably fit into any single genre, yet as a listener you know exactly where you stand. You can’t help but feel a swell of pride for the humble four-piece who work tirelessly to give back to their fans despite their packed schedule. Bastille deserve all the success they receive, however suddenly it may have arrived, and if album two is anything like Bad Blood we’re in for a real treat.