The perfection of Bad Blood seemed un-toppable, yet somehow these guys managed to do just that.
Bastille is one of those rarities in music: those ever-infrequent times where voice and words and music intersect perfectly. Nothing’s missing; nothing’s extraneous; nothing should be changed.
In 2013, I named Bastille’s debut full-length Bad Blood Album of the Year; the year before, I rated “Overjoyed” as the best song of the year. So, understandably, Wild World, the British quartet’s follow-up, was, pre-release, the top candidate for this year’s Album of the Year. In other words, the title was theirs to lose.
Turns out Bastille has scored the hat trick. The perfection of Bad Blood seemed un-toppable, yet somehow these guys managed to do just that. I loved Wild World from the very first listen—a rarity, as even my favorite music often has to grow on me over multiple spins—and haven’t stopped playing it since. I’m having a hard time coming up with enough adjectives to fully describe how perfect this album is, but I’ll do my best.
Leadoff track and first single “Good Grief” opens with a snippet from one of my favorite John Hughes movies—“So, what would you little maniacs like to do first?”—and quickly reminds us why we love Bastille. Everything’s there: Founder/frontman Dan Smith’s unique and beautiful voice, his thoughtful and thought-provoking lyrics, and strong instrumentation.
After the opener come the grunge-tinged “The Currents” (check out that dirty bass), the funereal “An Act of Kindness,” the synth-poppy “Warmth,” and the skyward-looking “Glory.” “Power” and “Two Evils” are quieter, contemplative, giving way to the upbeat indie rocker “Send Them Off!” and my two favorites (if I must choose), “Lethargy” and “Four Walls.” The strong guitar lines of “Blame” kick off the last third(ish) of Wild World, followed by the EDM-y “Fake It,” the charging “Snakes,” and, finally, “Winter of Our Youth.”
“Did you really think I’d fall to my knees just to pray for sweet simplicity?” Smith asks on “Power,” a song about the current that runs between two people. In “Send Them Off!” he asks for liberation from Desdemona, while “Winter of Our Youth” finds him lamenting, “I let myself bathe in the past for way, way, way too long.”
Smith throws in a few vocal tricks, too, drawing out certain words in unique and catchy ways: There’s his treatment of everyday from “An Act of Kindness,” anybody else from “Lethargy,” four walls from “Four Walls (The Ballad of Perry Smith),” and taste it from “Winter of Our Youth.” So beguiling, you’ll be crooning along in no time.
About to take to the American road, Bastille has just one challenge left in 2016: Concert of the Year. I’m counting the days until October 7. A+ | Laura Hamlett
Catch Bastille on a too-brief U.S. tour this fall; I guarantee you’ll fall more in love than ever.
09.30 | Chill on the Hill Fest, Sterling Heights MI
10.02 | 9:30 Club, Washington DC
10.03 | Music Hall of Williamsburg, Brooklyn
10.04 | Bowery Ballroom, New York City
10.05 | Danforth Music Hall, Toronto
10.07 | Red Rocks, Denver
10.09-10 | Troubadour, Los Angeles