Three years after their debut album Bad Blood, and the release of their global smash hit ‘Pompeii’, the song that put them on the mainstream music map, Bastille are back with their second studio album! This London band first started as a solo project by frontman Dan Smith, but soon evolved to include keyboardist Kyle Simmons, bassist/guitarist Will Farquarson, drummer Chris ‘Woody’ Wood and touring member Charlie Barnes on guitar and backing vocals.
It proves tough to break out of the one-hit wonder mould, something Bastille was thought to be when they took over global airwaves with their hit ‘Pompeii’, but they have managed to do just that with this album. Wild World is an eclectic mix of indie pop, alternative rock, synth pop, and all variations in between. Wild World is heavy on the strings and percussion, and includes a lot of brass, which gives it a better depth of sound than 2013’s Bad Blood.
Smith is unapologetic in his love for film and television. It shows in all Bastille album art, which include a billing block at the bottom, much like a movie poster. His references to cult TV show Twin Peaks in Bad Blood was noted through tracks like ‘Laura Palmer’ and ‘Overjoyed’, but in Wild World he takes it further, sampling clips from films to prelude and complement most of the tracks throughout the album, giving it an interestingly cinematic feel.
‘Good Grief’, the first single of this album, deals with the loss and the death of a friend, and trying to move on after (“What’s gonna be left of the world if you’re not in it? / Every minute of every hour I miss you more“), a surprisingly dark story hidden amidst an upbeat rhythm, strong bass line and clap along worthy beats. It’s a poppy, feel-good song, opened by Kelly Le Brock’s line from 1985 film Weird Science (“Now, what would you little maniacs like to do first?“), and launching straight into a strong bass line that immediately gets you moving along. The emotions in the lyrics are juxtaposed with the happiness of the melody, yet it works so well, a testament to the musical talents of Smith, who wrote and produced all tracks, alongside producer Mark Crew.
(Source: Rolling Stone)
Bastille have created a world that goes beyond the tracks, parallel to ours, but with a slightly more Orwellian edge to it, through Wild World Communications, a media/public relations company that controls all outgoing contact from Wild World and Bastille to the public. This company shows its hand in the music video for ‘Fake It’, the album’s second single, a slightly darker track with heavy percussions, dealing with mistakes and pushing past them to continue living, or at least faking it till you can.
Tracks ‘The Currents’ and ‘Warmth’ will resonate particularly well with listeners today. Both songs deal with uncertainty and concern in a changing, unstable political climate. ‘The Currents’ speaks directly to public figures who misuse their power and influence (Still living in the currents you create / Still sinking in the pools of your mistakes; I can’t believe my ears / I don’t wanna believe my ears; How can you think you’re serious? / Do you even know what year it is? / I can’t believe the scary points you make), calling out the likes of demagogues and unaccountable politicians.
‘Warmth’ is then a more intimate, anxiety-ridden reaction to the hopelessness of the situation (“Tell me, did you see the news tonight? / Hold me in this wild, wild world / Cause in your warmth I forget how cold it could be / And in your heat I feel how cold it can get“), a feeling most are familiar with in today’s global climate. The minimal synths, bass and electric guitar paired with Smith’s dynamic vocals works to bring out the emotion and futility that underlies the track. That makes this track a definite winner.
Wild World is a game changer, a music album unlike any other that manages to pull listeners into a different world through a cohesive narrative. It’s much more than your average pop album, tackling issues like global politics in a world that, at the time of release, was reeling from the results of the Brexit referendum, and even now still worried for the implications of a President Trump. It talks of the human condition, life and death, anxiety, divinity and everything in between. Narrative is Wild World’s greatest strength, followed closely by Smith’s undeniably strong vocals and the album’s consistently good tunes.
By Neda Al-Asedi
Header image: DIY Magazine
Album cover: bastille.wikia.com