Having lived under a rock of musical ignorance for years, emerging tentatively into the light like a hung over Fresher emerges from their room in the early afternoon only last year, I must say that I am quite impressed by Bastille’s debut studio album Bad Blood.
As a whole the album managed to maintain my interest throughout, avoiding the musical wasteland of less interesting songs halfway through that many albums seem to suffer. In part this seemed to be because of the great variation of styles employed over the whole album; from the solid and catchy drums present in hit singles Pompeii and Things We Lost in the Fire to the more ballad-like Oblivion.
However, this frequent change of style also seemed to show a lack of identity in the sound of the music, which when coupled with what I considered an occasional overuse of synth and some slight issue with the mixing of songs did make some of the songs on the album more of a struggle to listen to than others. These issues largely comprised certain elements of the song being too quiet or the synth being too loud and drowning the elements out. This was most notable on songs Laura Palmer which had some nice bass fills which were clearly audible only when I was really listening for them and Bad Blood which at points seemed to drown the decent lead vocals under a wave of synth.
That isn’t to say that the bands use of synth is completely out of place though, in several tracks the synth sound is blended nicely with the vocals to produce an interesting sound such as in the songs Flaws or These Streets. I considered this a particular success due to the fact that I usually don’t enjoy songs, which employ a great deal of synth.
As a whole, the vocals and drums are the strongest elements in the album with lead singer Dan Smith exhibiting some great vocals particularly notable in Get Home, which is well worth waiting until the end of the album to listen to, while drummer Chris Wood gives a solid display on many tracks, my personal favourites being Pompeii and the combinations of drums and bass in Things we Lost in the Fire, If anything it is bass that I would have liked to have seen more of. In tracks like the aforementioned Things we Lost in the Fire and the quietly snappy performance in Icarus there is some great potential, while in others like Laura Palmer it seemed to me that it was so drowned out that it was pointless.
Considered in its entirety I enjoyed listening to this first offering from Bastille with headlining songs Pompeii and Things we lost in the Fire making a great start to the album and later tracks Daniel in the Den and Get Home rounding out a good album. Given that this was a first album I can forgive the small issues, mostly overuse of synth, which brought down some of the otherwise pleasant tracks especially given that the album maintained my interest throughout, which is often not easy. I will certainly be looking forward to the next offering from Bastille.
By Andy Cubbon