What happens when an indie artist puts out an album on a major record label? Well, for one, a million hipsters choke on their PBRs and complain about the ‘death of good music’ (while still listening to the album in secret), and, secondly, a whole new breadth of people are exposed to an artist who never could have imagined such a level of success. Such is the case with Bastille, an English rock ensemble that has recently found a home on Top 40s charts all over the world.
After releasing an EP through an independent label and getting some stage time in at the 2011 Glastonbury Festival, Virgin Records picked up Bastille and set the wheels in motion for a full-length studio album. With the 2014 release of “All This Bad Blood,” Bastille presents a comprehensive and stunning summary of their four years in the industry, including songs from their early days, new tracks, and everything in between. Who ever said indie couldn’t kick some ass?
If you’ve ever taken a ride on the Anteater Express, you’ve heard “Pompeii,” the song that broke the band’s barrier to the U.S., and plays on the alt-rock radio station about once every ten minutes. Despite its current success, this song is one of the oldest included on “All This Bad Blood”. In fact, the entire first half of the album is simply a reissue of the band’s 2013 release, “Bad Blood.” This record establishes Bastille as a group with an eclectic sound, sometimes rock and sometimes pop, but always with a dramatic and almost anthemic twist.
Songs like “Flaws” and “Laura Palmer” have a heavy electro pop flavor, while the softer “Oblivion” offers a track led by piano and strings. Bastille presents some pretty strong foundations, but it is the newer tracks on the second part of the album that really get your blood pumping.
Fans of Bastille know of lead singer (and composer) Dan Smith’s fondness for making covers–the band released two mix tapes in 2012 titled “Other People’s Heartache” and “Other People’s Heartache, Part II.” In my opinion, these mix tapes feature some of the most dynamic covers from the last decade of music (and that is saying a lot, especially considering the advent of YouTube musicianship). “All This Bad Blood” includes some of these tracks, like a broody cover of City High’s “What Would You Do?”
Truly the most genre-defying track on the album is the mashup of Corona’s “The Rhythm of the Night” and Snap!’s “Rhythm is a Dancer.” The beat on the latter is soft yet infectious and it is the kind of song you would want to listen to on a late-night drive. While they hold their own on their original music, Bastille’s musical prowess truly shines in their covers.
There is something so refreshing about this band. Dan Smith’s voice is distinct, his accent is endearing, and the record focuses heavily on four-part vocal harmonies that can sound almost choral at times. Although they are categorized as an alternative rock band, Bastille is one of those ‘once in a blue moon’ groups that can dabble in all kinds of different genres with both confidence and skill. As the founding members of the band said of the album, “‘All This Bad Blood’ feels like a complete representation of what we have done so far and what we’d like to do in the future.”
I’m quite confident that we’ll be seeing a lot of Bastille in the years to come.
RECOMMENDED: Is it an indie album? Is it a rock album? We’re not entirely sure, but it’s worth a listen.