by Chiara Jurczak
British pop-rock band Bastille delivers another stunning album with their latest release Give Me The Future. It’s full of entrancing beats, riveting vocals and just enough dystopian themes to occupy one’s mind without taking away from the simple enjoyment of getting lost in the music. Long-time fans will not be surprised to jump into another album reflecting Bastille’s peculiar approach to pop. Their previous albums, Bad Blood (2013), Wild World (2016), and Doom Days (2019), contained anything but the pure optimism which tends to color most pop albums — as reflected by their slightly ominous titles. The mythological and historical themes which the band incorporates in their songwriting, merged with the extremely modern beats they produce, give the band’s music a strangely timeless effect — appropriate to serve either as the backdrop of an EDM club scene or a medieval castle fight. Lead singer Dan Smith’s raspy vocals, smoothed by his British intonation, allow listeners to immerse themselves in the “future now.”The first track on the album, “Distorted Light Beam,” sets the stage perfectly for the rest of the album. While recognizable as a Bastille song, it manages to innovate slightly by leaning into higher-pitched synths and vocals that give off a robotic, futuristic vibe. The repetitiveness of a fast-paced chorus also feeds into this narrative, making the impact of the lyrics hit that much harder. In particular, the pre-chorus verse “Feeling like/If this is life/I’m choosin’ fiction” is a beautiful mix of nostalgia in its slowed-down form, all the while reminding one of the almost video-game style of the story being told.The next track, “Thelma + Louise,” is more typical Bastille. The upbeat track is peppered with hand-claps and percussive hits perfectly accompanying the lyric “Can you hear the sound of my heart exploding.” Listeners are then beautifully invited to place themselves in the story with the title lyric, “And suddenly we’re Thelma and Louise.” This seamless merge of fiction and reality is something which Bastille does exceedingly well, giving their songs a continued dynamism that keeps fans addicted.Another perfect example of Bastille’s happy and sad — depressing, even— contrast comes in their third song, “No Bad Days.” A seemingly optimistic-sounding title with a very relaxed beat, this song has perhaps the most jarring lyrics so far, such as “So your future’s lost/But they can’t take your past,” and the title chorus, which is misleading in its “You’ll have no more bad days/When you’re gone, gone.” Feeding into the timeless aspect here is the ability to interpret this song however one wants: whether the mood calls for an optimistic message about the promise of peace in the afterlife or a worryingly beaten-down view of the world, Bastille delivers.The album only continues its perfection from there, with their next track “Brave New World – Interlude,” consisting of a 27-second heavenly orchestral chorus that immaculately feeds into their fifth track, “Back To The Future.” This song calls for anything but a venture into a “new world.” Rather, this track evokes a sort of clinging to the past with the chorus, “In the middle of the night/I can dream away/Change what I like and go back to the future again.” The contrast continues with “Plug In…” which is a fast-paced, almost spoken-word song that further mixes ancient themes with ones tied to the future and specifically the power of the internet, as with the line “Say you’ll resurrect me as a young deep fake.” The song ends on an entrancing chorus of violins, opening for the next track “Promises” featuring actor and rapper Riz Ahmed voicing a stream of consciousness weaved with biblical allusions, and which ends with the beginnings of a whoosh bass sound that grows into the album’s next track, “Shut Off The Lights.” This track is a weird mix of chill, lo-fi beats with scream-at the top your lungs type of lyrics. The multi-layered chorus, “And you said, ‘Shut off the lights, we don’t need them to dance’” already anticipates the crowds during Bastille’s upcoming tour.The title track, “Give Me The Future,” is the epitome of the band and this album, with mythical references (“I could be anything, let me be your Midas king”) perfectly merging with the futuristic tone of the song (“So give me the future, it’s golden and bright”). The message in this song, which uses the tragic story of King Midas to give itself a double-meaning, is a perfect example of the subtlety with which Bastille weaves its storytelling and which makes this music so compelling.The album ends with another entrancing transition, “Total Dissociation – Interlude,” feeding into the final track “Future Holds,” which leaves listeners with a (somewhat) optimistic outlook on life. The lyrics “Don’t blink, I’ll miss it all/And dead/boys don’t remember/The shit we never did/Will haunt us” are a perfect prelude to the chorus, a question which the band turns back to listeners “Who knows what the future holds?” almost as a challenge. Well, if the answer is any more Bastille albums like this one, then perhaps the future’s not looking so bad after all.