Bastille’s apocalyptic themed third album is a pleasant if not familiar experience.
It’s crazy to think it's been six whole years since Bastille burst onto the scene with their groundbreaking debut album ‘Bad Blood’. Since then the group has only flourished, known for their big indie-pop anthems, they have all the production and backing of a major label group yet despite this frontman Dan Smith’s been allowed free reign when it comes to ideas and inspirations, you could argue they’ve only ever known bold concepts for each record and ‘Doom Days’ is no exception. Centred around a single chaotic night out, the album is much more cohesive and intense than the sprawling epics before it such as previous record ‘Wild World’ which bordered on exhaustive and in which some of its biggest and most interesting tracks were at risk of getting lost. Seemingly aware of this Doom Days aims for a middle ground, the only problem this time is that the concept is at risk of failing to make an impression, timestamps instead of track numbers is a clever idea and fits the theme perfectly, however despite a few time-stamped tracks (Quarter Past Midnight, 4 AM) I believe without being told the theme before listening to the record that this ‘night out’ concept would never become independently apparent to someone coming into the album blind.
This identity crisis shifts to the tracks themselves, the most interesting tracks are all ones fans would be immediately familiar with, ‘Quarter Past Midnight’ is a brilliant slice of upbeat, frantic pop that Bastille excel at however, it's practically a relic in pop years after releasing an incredible 13 months prior to album release. ‘Joy’ is absolutely just that, incredibly joyous and uplifting, its mixture of gospel and pop is ingenious and a triumph. Title track ‘Doom Days’ is a brief yet thrilling socio-political statement that shows Bastille remains as bold and outspoken as ever, it's also incredibly thought-provoking and asks questions of the internet generation which as a society we seem too afraid to do ourselves. However, both have been heard before, not to mention album highlight and future live smash ‘Million Pieces’ which was sampled and hinted at in their most recent mixtape from the end of last year. This overwhelming sense of deja vu hinders the strongest half of the record is hard to overlook, especially when the rest of the material fails to reach the same heights.
Saying this, there are a couple of deep cuts and interesting turns that impress, ‘Those Nights’ features an experimental electronic synth saxophone breakdown, it's as wild as you can imagine, inspired by Bon Iver it's exactly the direction I would love to see Dan take the band in the future. They have a strong fan base and radio appeal, I believe they could really wow and surprise with a sharp left turn into the weird and wonderful, for now ‘Doom Days’ is pleasant if a not familiar step in that direction.