Saturday, February 5, 2022

Review: Give Me The Future • Bastille




Within moments of beginning Bastille’s fourth studio album, Dan Smith collapses into a technological wasteland. “Feeling like if this is life, I’m choosing fiction,” he sings on “Distorted Light Beam,” an unrelenting flashbang that explores online self-image curation and digitally massaged connections. Disaster is not an unfamiliar concept to the band – their last record, aptly titled Doom Days, followed Smith from midnight to sunrise through an apocalyptic party – but Give Me the Future drops the band into an Orwellian future that balances hypermodernism with the emotional regression of humanity. 

Executive produced by OneRepublic’s Ryan Tedder, the album zaps Bastille to new feelings and sounds at each turn, from the dark, distant title track to the unexpected dance rushes on “Shut Off the Lights” and “Back to the Future.” On paper, the record is unmistakably a Bastille release: Turmoil, buttery tenor harmonies, and big drum patterns anchor the album. However, Give Me The Future warps Bastille through a synthetic lens, splicing in enough synthesizers and straightforward social commentary for the band to peek into the textured world of overblown pop music.

More akin to the band’s tangent string of mixtapes than their major label lineage, the album can be a little oddball at times with spoken word interludes and a few clunky lines about freaks, geeks, drugs, and power. It’s quick to identify “Thelma + Louise” as a Bastille song, but in good time, the echoing electroballad “No Bad Days” and gurgling dance number “Plug In…” begin to feel like a natural evolution, not the elimination, of the band’s identity. If Bastille wants to be a dance-rock band, this record is the way to do it: Firmly and unapologetically. Here's to the future, no matter how fascinating or unnerving it may be.

Give Me the Future is available now under Virgin EMI Records.

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Maira Gall