Album Review: Bastille- Wild World

bastille-wild-world-2016-2480x2480EY-EY-O indeed. Every year or so we get what Todd in the Shadows calls “the annual indie fluke hit sweepstakes”. We all know those poor, poor artists who come from relative obscurity or at the very most, some underground buzz, just happen to get a huge pop hit, and then usually never live up to that success for the rest of their career. And most of the time, I actually really like those songs! Gotye, Foster the People, and as of this writing, Walk the Moon, all of these artists had their one and only big pop hit so far, and, in my opinion they were legitimately good. A few years ago, Bastille won the raffle and had a massive (and annoyingly pervasive) hit with “Pompeii”. This song was blared in every public space, was in every friggin’ commercial, and was played every ten minutes on the radio. It was crazy. And it was also terrible. It was an ear worm the likes of which this world had never heard before and decimated the minds of many. You would be trying to take your math test, and then EY, EY-O, EY-O would start ringing through your head and you ended up with a D. That buddhist monk chanting hook was pretty cool the first time you heard it, but I don’t know a single person who didn’t eventually get annoyed by that damn song. I just assumed this band would share the same fate as the other indie artists who were never able to match their first big hit, and seeing as how this new album’s first single hasn’t charted on the Billboard Hot 100 as of this writing, I think my prediction may be close to coming true. 

Anyway, this is Wild World, the sophomore outing from Bastille. And, well… there’s really not much to say about this record besides that it’s pretty unremarkable. I can’t say I’m disappointed because I wasn’t really expecting this to be that good anyway, but I’m pretty astonished with just how unmemorable this is, even by indie rock standards. Scratch that, I can’t realistically call Bastille an indie rock band. There’s not really anything independent about this (they’re signed to a major label), and there’s definitely no “rock” in Bastille’s sound. But that’s okay, I generally find that modern, too-airy-for-its-own-good indie rock sound to be pretty unappealing so no harm no foul. This is more ever-so-slightly left field pop. But it commits a crime that’s arguably worse than being terrible by being boring. Not “The 1975” level boring, but not too far from it either.

To be fair, the record starts off pretty promising, with a pretty enthusiastic funk jam in “Good Grief”. It’s got a great beat and bassline driving it along, and it sounds a lot more upbeat than what I’m used to with Bastille. I was actually pretty down with this album for the length of this first track. I thought that if the band wanted to take a more energetic approach, they could possibly salvage some good vibes and a few tracks I might come back to. But no, for the rest of this album we just get more shiny but toothless slogs. They go the Coldplay route and go straight down into the middle of the road arena pop that doesn’t have the bombast or energy to warrant being played in arenas. Unfortunately for the band, none of these songs have anything close to the hook Pompeii had, and I can’t really see any of these taking off at the radio with the exception of “Good Grief”, which hasn’t even gotten quite to the top of the rock chart, let alone the Hot 100, and it’s not like it takes much to get to the top of the rock chart.

Look, I’m not trying to tear this band a new one, and if I am heavily critical of something, I like to at least offer some constructive criticism. They have a sound and they do it well, for what it’s worth. Overall, they stay a little too dour, but without any grit to the performance or production, it comes off as lethargic. I think with a little bit of fine tuning a producer who can build a sound a bit more hard hitting, they could come up with a decent, catchy indie pop record. But still, I can’t really give the go ahead on this one. This is caught somewhere between a Maybe Not and a Stay Away, but given the fact that I legitimately enjoyed the first track, and that there wasn’t anything here that made me angry, I’ll lean towards the former. 

Maybe Not

Standout Tracks:

-Good Grief

Released on September 9th, by Virgin EMI

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