Bastille – All This Bad Blood
At the front of this new age of the genre I dub ‘television soundtrack’ is British band Bastille (BΔSTILLE) who relies on a lot of mythical and historical imagery at the hands of songwriter Dan Smith. Songs from Bad Blood, the band’s first album, take ritualistic approaches to telling coming-of-age stories that are all-so-common in dramas.
Opening track (and current North American single) Pompeii refers to the ill-fated Roman town that was buried by the erupting Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD as it builds to the bridge “oh where do we begin/the rubble or our sins” before returning to the chant that has become the call to attention for this song and band.
Elsewhere, album standout Icarus sings about risk-taking to meet ambition by using Icarus of Greek mythology, son of Daedalus, who ignored instructions not to fly too close to the sun as doing so risked melting his wings, which were made of wax, and falling to his death.
Supporting the larger-than-life-and-time lyrics are big melodies that give this album longterm potential in more than one way.
The first single released in the UK from the record came out in late 2012 while the album itself hit shelves and digital stores nearly a year ago – slightly later in North America on both fronts. A re-release was also issued in late 2013, resulting in a 25-track album that is sure to keep the band on the front burner for quite some time.
Secondly, the album is made to be future nostalgia. Beyond Pompeii are songs that can be attached to fond memories of summer nights, a vacation or that special fling that was too short. Even if the record doesn’t provide anything breakthrough or original, its hooks and generalized lyrics cut right to the point of where they need to be.For the re-release, titled All This Bad Blood, the band included some b-sides, demos and a few new recordings of songs that step away from the sounds they established on the original release.
One of those is a cover of two of the 90s most recognizable dance hits, Rhythm Is A Danger by Snap and Corona‘s Rhythm Of The Night. The result is Of The Night, a beat-based indie-rock mashup that actually works in some strange way. Obviously, nobody can outdo those originals and that likely wasn’t the intent, instead focusing on creating a new approach to familiar classics.
That approach didn’t work on the other cover, early 2000s R&B group City High‘s socially conscious hit from 2001, What Would You Do, which sounds dull and lifeless, and is just awkward on the final track Tuning Out…, which is mostly made up of O Holy Night for some reason.
All This Bad Blood is a great album that covers a lot of bases without coming off too strong in any direction. Though it will likely contribute heavily to the soundtrack of 2014 could, its impending popularity could also be its undoing because of that lack of extremes or distinctiveness. It’s good but it’s not too good that it’s void of any criticism that could very well also become larger than life-and-time.
2. Things We Lost In The Fire
3. Bad Blood
5. These Streets
6. Weight Of Living Pt. II
10. Daniel In The Den
11. Laura Palmer
12. Get Home
2. The Silence
3. Haunt [Demo]
4. Weight Of Living Pt. I
6. Durban Skies
7. Laughter Lines
8. Previously On Other People’s Heartaches
9. Of The Night
10. The Draw
11. What Would You Do
13. Tuning Out…