Despite the title, Bastille somehow leave us with a little more hope than we started with on third album ‘Doom Days’.
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A lot has changed in the nearly four years since British alt-pop phenomenon Bastille released their acclaimed sophomore record. When it was released in September of 2016, Wild World felt like a lingering glimmer of hope in what would soon become nothing less than a truly wild, wild world. Now, the band has doubled down on weaving their razor sharp political dialogue through lyrical banter, constructing a sort of nostalgic dystopian future that feels eerily realistic. Their third record, Doom Days, is a masterclass in finding the balance between the effervescent and the melancholy; the “Joy” and the “Doom Days.”
Listen: Doom Days – Bastille
In true Bastille fashion, the record holds a mirror up to modern day society, dissecting our relationships with technology, politics, and the media. The title track hints at an all too familiar (yet distinctly millennial) lived experience: anxieties around phone addiction, fake news, and climate change denial, all wrapped up in Dan Smith’s hypnotic voice and impenetrable wit. Always ones to push the oft restrictive boundaries of genre, Bastille carved out their own liminal space somehow both on the margins and in the mainstream. Though thematically similar to the Wild World era, this record more closely resembles the genre-bending experiments on Other People’s Heartache, Pt. 4, an effusive and emotional journey through alternative production and subtle R&B influences. Doom Days cannot be categorized as anything other than the soundtrack to the last night before the end of the world (or as the band themselves put it, an “apocalyptic party album”).
Think I’m addicted to my phone
My scrolling horror show
I’m live-streaming the final days of Rome
Watch: “Doom Days” – Bastille
Though Bastille’s artistic ethos is all about progress, there are still moments on the album that recall the stunning cinematic feel of the Bad Blood era. “The Waves” and “Divide” round out the tried and true Bastille formula — an alt-pop symphony set in perfect surround sound — while “Million Pieces” and “Nocturnal Creatures” display an adventurous nod towards 90s dance music. The record is equal parts Bon Iver and The xx; we come away dancing and crying and screaming at the top of our lungs, elated in a hazy neon dystopia. Play this album in its entirety and you’re transported to your blurriest nights in the brightest cities, whizzing through the streets bathed in a Blade Runner 2049 kind of glow.
Drink, f*ck, dance
Right through disaster
Speaking to MusicFeeds ahead of the album’s release, Smith acknowledged the power of music to provide an escape and distraction during trying times. With a news cycle that constantly airs the negative, and global leaders who appear to place regressive change for personal gain above all else, it can be easy to feel bogged down. On Doom Days, Bastille reassures us that while we can’t just bury our heads in the sand, it’s okay to give ourselves a break from the heartache these headlines inspire. We can still go to festivals, dance at clubs, take in all those simple pleasures and not have to feel guilty for needing a distraction. We can still find joy behind all the madness. We can be as optimistic, nihilistic or pessimistic as we want, but the world will still turn. “I do think it’s important, if you’re making pop music, for it to aspire to say something,” Smith said to MusicFeeds. “Or at least provoke some sort of thought or conversation.” Pop music and the artists who create it do not exist in a vacuum. What Bastille has always excelled at is recognizing that their words carry weight and that people are eager to hear something that makes them think, dance, cry — all at the same time.
Watch: “Quarter Past Midnight” – Bastille
Sure Doom Days is melancholic, anxiety-ridden, and nostalgic for a world we may have already forgotten. But there’s a euphoria to this record that feels so pure; through all the desperation, we begin and end with a joyous rush. From the debauchery of “Quarter Past Midnight” to the next day’s redemption on “Joy,” Bastille pulls back the curtain on humanity, adventure, and imagination. Although its title signifies the end of the world, Doom Days somehow leaves you with a little more hope for the future than you started with, if not solely through lyrics like, “Why would we divide when we could come together?”
📸 © Bastille