Bastille: “Doom Days” (Album Review)

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Members of Bastille in promotional photo; photo courtesy of Atwood Magazine

The London-based band aims for a more inventive, boundary & genre-hopping album where they attempt to party away the darkness and political strife in the world – but the realities and bleakness keep catching up with them.

Bastille, the London-based band that broke out in 2011 with their hit “Pompeii” has definitely made a name for themselves over the past decade. After nine years and three studio albums (and countless mixtapes), everything one would expect from the indie pop group has been set in stone. You know that they will always deliver massive hooks and lead singer Dan Smith’s signature voice is so recognizable that he’s been popping up on other artist’s tracks (check out the super successful single “Happier” by the always mysterious DJ Marshmello) or surprise appearances (he most recently performed “Just Give Me a Reason” with P!nk at the BRIT Awards). They’ve crafted their own way to success by creating concept albums with a central story or theme at their cores and following it up with visual stories that emulate said themes; among the many indie/alternative boy groups out there like Imagine Dragons or Coldplay, they’ve definitely found their own niche to make them different.

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Doom Days Album Cover similar to their other Movie-like poster album covers

Doom Days is their third alliteratively-titled album, representing a new era of increasingly dark headlines that are enough to make you want to chuck your devices into the wall with such angst. Bastille effectively crafts a concept around this central darkness by reminding us that sometimes, at the end of the day to escape our fears, all one needs is one night out with the boys and get completely obliterated. This is the central idea that forms the basis of the album which charts the course of a night at a house party as the world comes to an end right outside. In fact, each song on the record is set at a specific time during the night and are meant to be taken in the order they appear in.

The record opens (in an Uber at 12:15AM) with “Quarter Past Midnight,” the lead, carefree single with a huge hook to keep you captivated setting the tone for the environment within the house that later takes a twisted turn with the lyrics that Smith has come to be known for. A desperation permeates the first half of the album – Bastille does a 180 on the politically aware commentary that inhabited the preceding album and tour. The real world keeps creeping in to remind us about the bleakness and political penetration that is always around every corner in the brilliant rave-y “Million Pieces.” “Divide” is either about a literal relationship split or a cry for unity in the world. “Bad Decisions” sounds like a response to the current Brexit situation in the U.K. The title track itself also sounds like a possible reference to the Brexit nightmare, nestled between some of society’s other biggest issues like social media addiction, climate change denial and fake news. Bastille has never been one to shy away from political context and their darkest and most bleak album finds a way to interweave their constructed narrative with current social issues.

Stream the Album now through Spotify!

There is another side to Doom Days besides the bleak and dark atmosphere. It’s one that celebrates Bastille’s fellow party-goers and ravers and in general, people who love human connection. “Nocturnal Creatures” and “Those Nights” mark points on the album where the end times are coming to a close and you want a fellow human to go home and wake up with – the craving of the human emotional and physical touch that can be lost in the otherwise vast sea of ignorance and bliss. The album closer “Joy” (set on the kitchen floor at 8:34AM) finds Dan’s sleep broken by a call from someone special – perhaps a lover or an acquaintance – and the sound of their name makes him not want to give up or give in to the dark, bleak world that currently surrounds us. A catharsis if you will.

Bastille’s third album is a vivid snapshot of humanity dressed as an imaginative and adventurous leveling up from on of the U.K.’s most influential indie/alternative pop bands. Taking in the current mood of the masses all around the world, Bastille has effectively created a dark indie pop classic for the end times. What do you do when the world is ending? Gather up all your friends, buy all the alcohol you can, press play and party like there is no (literal) tomorrow!

JAKKAWI: B-

Essential Track(s): “Quarter Past Midnight”, “4AM”, “Joy”

Music Video for Lead Single “Quarter Past Midnight”; All rights and music video owned by Bastille & UMG (on behalf of Virgin)
Released: June 14, 2019.
Genre(s): Indie pop, alternative pop.
Label: Virgin EMI, Virgin, Universal.
Featured Artist(s): N/A.
Tour: Doom Days World Tour (as of publishing) as well as various festivals [Werchter - Werchter, Belgium; Glastonbury - UK; Stavernfestivalen - Norway; TRNSMT - Glasgow; Citadel - London; Malakoff - Norway; Weekend Helsinki - Finland; Low Festival - Spain; Indiependence Festival - Ireland; Untold Festival - Romania; Grona Lund - Stockholm; Leeds Festival; Reading Festival]
Vinyl Edition: Yes - through various outlets (as of publishing).

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