Review: Bastille – Give Me the Future
National Music Reviews
Give Me the Future
Bastille = Imagine Dragons x OneRepublic
Showcasing distinctive vocals in our era may seem like a daunting task with all the skill that goes into production and effects. It’s a remarkable feat., then, for Bastille to do exactly that in their fourth studio album, Give Me The Future, arguably their most experimental to date.
The electronic, alternative pop album is full of synthesizers, vocal effects and loads of experimentation throughout its 13 tracks. It’s a gamble, especially since Bastille has widely coined itself as a reliable indie-pop group. 2013’s Bad Blood and even 2016’s Wild World are worlds away from the new album, especially sonically.
Bastille is known for their ability to spin wider themes such as politics, climate change and more into digestible bites of music for audiences. Wild World was an epic exploration of all the turmoil in 2016. Since the world turned almost dystopian two years ago, that’s what is fittingly reflected in this new album. Through a techno and electronic lens, Bastille is still there and true to its roots, while challenging their musical potential.
The overall theme of Give Me the Future is dreaminess. It’s about infinite potential, endless opportunities and an optimistic look at the future. The songs are characterized by cinematic sounds and production, as on the interludes “Brave New World” and “Total Dissociation,” which Bastille’s Dan Smith tells Apple Music “serve to help tell the story as we bounce back and forward in time, and in and out of digital dreaming.”
Lyrically the album is true to Bastille’s precedent of hard-hitting, emotionally driven and blunt words—‘“Waking life, it lets us down” from “Back to the Future” and “Nothing is certain and the song isn’t done” from the album’s title track stand as prominent examples. But Give Me the Future is soothing and catchy too. “Thelma + Louise,” my favorite track on the album, is escapism personified. It’s daring and it pays off. Songs like “No Bad Days” and “Plug In…” ground the album for Bastille fans that are looking for something more traditional, whereas “Stay Awake?,” the most experimental cut here, won’t be a fan favorite. Even Riz Ahmed’s spoken-word poetry feature on “Promises” might not be what fans expect from Bastille.
Even then, the album is best described as one created by artists willing to balance the good and the bad, the dystopian with the optimistic. It’s a different vibe, but different in this case doesn’t necessarily mean bad. When artists can experiment while staying true to their vocal roots and let those qualities carry the album, it makes for good music and a chance to usher in a new era in a musician’s career. –Palak Jayswal