Three years since the release of Doom Days and a whole pandemic later, Bastille are back with their fourth album Give Me The Future. Plans for the album began before anyone had heard of COVID-19 but its themes have since become eerily relatable. Frontman Dan Smith has described it as reflecting “the strangeness of living through times that can feel like science fiction”, with a focus on how we use technology to connect and escape.
Bastille are no strangers to weaving social and political commentary into their music, particularly in past albums Wild World and Doom Days, which reference the likes of Trump and Brexit. Give Me The Future aims to take this one step further, imagining ways to escape and reimagine life completely – a tempting prospect especially after the last few years. To accompany the project, the band even created their own fictional technology company Future Inc, whose product Futurescape allows users to use their imaginations to create an alternate reality for themselves.
And that is exactly how Give Me The Future feels; like an escape from reality, pulling you into their enthralling world of addictive pop melodies and leaving you wanting more. Having waved goodbye to their usual two-syllable album titles, the change is reflected in the record’s fresh sound, revealing an exciting new side to the band and their most experimental album to date. Being bold enough to experiment and still surprise fans after four records is an impressive feat in itself.
Opening track Distorted Light Beam, co-written and co-produced with Ryan Tedder, sets the tempo for the record with its euphoric electro-pop sound really packing a punch. Lyrics “when I’m dreaming tonight, I can be anything, when I’m dreaming tonight, I can go anywhere, when I’m dreaming tonight, I can be anyone” reflects how easy it is in the 21st century to recreate yourself from behind a screen. Tedder also co-wrote track Club 57 which asks, “is it love, or are we just craving attention?” Featuring idyllic whistles and uplifting, dreamlike harmonies, it feels like a cynical take on modern online dating.
Dan’s well-known love of sci-fi seeps into the record as references to many films that touch on the idea of escapism appear throughout the album. It’s like a fun musical version of Where’s Wally trying to spot them all. Some are more obvious in title tracks such as ‘Thelma + Louise’ and ‘Back To The Future’, whereas you have to listen closer to spot lyrics like “can we just blade run, run away / let’s tap our heels three times and pray” in Back To The Future and “share our souls on the internet, total recall, all the dumb regrets” in Stay Awake.
Bastille have always had an innate talent for creating songs with hugely addictive choruses that stay with you for days. This is a super fun album despite the often-depressing and serious subject matter – a classic Bastille tactic. Back To The Future and Plug-In feature quick lyrics and a mix of electronic beats with classical strings to create soundscapes that reflect the chaos of modern life and feel as epic as film scores. No Bad Days and title track Give Me The Future offer Phil Collins influence thanks to their melodic drum beats and echoed vocals.
Dan’s powerful voice is probably one the most recognisable in pop, but the use of distortion and experimental sounds throughout the record means it manages to sound fresh and offers us a new, exciting perspective. The most touching song on the album No Bad Days showcases his vocal talents to the fullest, as he sings about resurrecting loved ones through technology.
The album finishes with Future Holds featuring BIM who sung on previous Bastille track Joy. Her powerful vocals against Dan’s offer an exciting dynamic, with added choir backing for an uplifting ending to album’s story. The song closes asking “Who knows what the future holds? Don’t matter if I got you”, bringing us back to reality and reminding us that what’s most important is not distracting technology but the people around us.
Even though there are only 10 ‘traditional’ songs on the album, it’s certainly quality over quantity. Each has something important to say in an order that tells an enthralling story from start to finish. Two interludes and beautiful spoken word piece Promises performed by British rapper and Actor Riz Ahmed offer breaks from the chaos and give time for reflection. It’s a truly immersive record, one that makes you feel like the main character of your very own sci-fi movie.
With two tours and a summer of festivals on the horizon, we really can’t wait to hear these new tunes live. An album full of this much energy with singalong choruses at every turn is made to be played to audiences.
If the future means more fantastic Bastille albums like this one, then we can’t wait.