Sunday, April 27, 2014

All This Bad Blood | Bastille


★★★★☆

This review covers the thirteen new tracks. To read my review of the original album, click here

British band Bastille had a great time last year with the worldwide success of "Pompeii" and has since left us all begging for more. Nearly six months after the United Kingdom was offered the extended cut of Bad Blood, the United States is finally receiving the double disc album, All This Bad Blood.

All This Bad Blood may be the overall title of this collection, but this name only covers the first half of the album; the other half goes under another name. From what I can tell, the first part of this album is just a collection of any songs recorded for the Bad Blood era that didn't make the original album. "Poet" opens the disc, in which lead singer Dan Smith sings "I have written you down / Now you will live forever / And all the world will read you / And you will live forever," hence comparing his lover to an everlasting poem.

"The Silence," "Laughter Lines," and "The Weight of Living, Pt. I" were all included on the United States edition of Bad Blood, leaving just four new songs on the first half of the disc. Among them are a demo of a somewhat forgettable song called "Haunt" and another blooming piece called "Sleepsong." The last new song for American ears on the first part of All This Bad Blood is "Durban Skies," a slower song with its explosive moments of instrumentation.

The second half of the album is dubbed Other People's Heartache, which is mainly filled with cover versions of songs. The second part begins with the interlude "Previously on Other People's Heartache," which is simply a foggy medley of the upcoming songs.

One of the most notable songs from this album is "Of The Night," which ignited across the United Kingdom last year. The lyrics are composed of a combination of two 1990s songs: "The Rhythm of the Night" and "Rhythm is a Dancer." Hearing a combination of light dance music and Bastille's normal sound is quite different, but it works. I can definitely see why this song took off so quickly. The album dives back into a pure alternative sound in "The Draw," a song with a rock-solid chorus.

"What Would You Do" was originally recorded by City High, a short-lived R&B group. The lyrics tell a story of a woman who was raped as a child, got pregnant by a man who is addicted to drugs, and now strips for money to feed her son. In the song, Smith sings "What would you do if your son was at home / Crying all alone on the bedroom floor, / 'Cause he's hungry and the only way to feed him is to / Sleep with a man for a little bit of money?" I've heard the original song, and personally I feel that Bastille's deeper, melancholy sound fits the lyrics and situation even more than the original rap style.

A heavier bit, "Skulls," is another highlight, especially its lyrical content applying to eternal love: "When our lives are over and all that remains / Are our skulls and bones let's take it to the grave / And hold me in your arms, hold me in your arms / I'll be buried here with you." The album comes to a close with an outro titled "Tuning Out," which features a heavenly cover of "O Holy Night." In the song, there is a chamber choir made up completely of just Dan Smith's voice; it's amazing. The audio turns to static, and then fades out with heavily edited vocals from "Skull."

All This Bad Blood seems like a very half-baked idea put into physical form too early. There is a distinctive line of quality between the first and second halves of the album. The first half just seems like "oops, here are the songs we missed on the release just in case you wanted to hear them," while Other People's Heartache is a flowing, cohesive piece of work; I almost wish that the better half of the album was just available as its own extended play. The songs are great, but I just wish the planning aspects of this album were actually left to mature a bit longer.

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Maira Gall