Bastille – Give Me the Future
They say not to judge a book by its cover, but Give Me the Future, the fourth studio album from Bastille, sounds pretty much exactly how the pixel art adorning its release looks: bright, buoyant, futuristic – and, at times, a little overwhelming.
The Dan Smith-led four-piece are no strangers to darker, dystopian themes (see 2019’s Doom Days for earlier dabblings along these lines), but Give Me the Future is undoubtedly their most conceptual release to date. It’s their “big tech” album, if not a concept album per se, marrying broad electronic landscapes with lyrics focused almost entirely on the shortcomings and anxieties of the modern world. And it’s certainly not subtle either.
Singles Distorted Light Beam and Thelma + Louise are the instant standouts. Though worlds apart sonically speaking, they stand shoulder to shoulder with breakthrough hit Pompeii as some of the finest pop songs the band have ever created. Sounding somewhere between Dua Lipa and Glass Animals (of all acts!) these are genuinely exciting and fresh pop songs, free of pretence or any heavy-handed thematic development. No Bad Days and Stay Awake, too, are keepers, destined to be live staples for years to come.
Production is largely on the maximalist end of the spectrum, and, while slickly executed, can occasionally veer into the latter-day Panic! at the Disco trap of believing that more sounds always means good sounds. There’s also Promises, a spoken word track performed by actor Riz Ahmed. It’s well-intended but lines like “AI in the sky humming / The world’s burning but f*ck it” fall flat in this setting. And things get even more clumsy in Plug In, in which Smith aimlessly rattles off vaguely dystopian buzzwords like “Anthropocene” and “machine” and comes across a bit like your dad doing a “phone bad” bit round the dinner table. None of this is an especially hot take at this point in history; when even Weezer have dealt with this topic in a more nuanced and sensitive manner (2021’s OK Human), it’s perhaps a sign to rethink.
Ultimately, listeners’ enjoyment of Give Me the Future hinges on their ability to tolerate the slightly clumsy handling of the conceptual elements. There are plenty of delectable melodies and exciting rhythms here – some of the best in the Bastille back catalogue, arguably. For those able to tune out some of the more try-hard moments, this is a real winner.
Give Me the Future is released on 4th February 2022. For further information or to order the album visit Bastille’s website here.
Watch the video for the single Distorted Light Beam here: