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Sunday, May 19, 2024
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Step into the future with Bastille’s ‘Give Me the Future’

British pop rock band Bastille released their fourth studio album Give Me the Future on Feb. 4. The new album, somewhat similar thematically to Doom Days, deals with the idea of escapism, the future and the question of what is real and what is fake. Executive produced by OneRepublic frontman Ryan Tedder, the overall sound of the album could be described as futuristic synth-pop.

Some tracks, like “Distorted Light Beam” and “Stay Awake?”, sound highly produced, with fairly simplistic lyrics and heavy use of synth and effects. The latter has a robot voice simulated in its intro and delves into our tech-centric reality. Both songs are decent, but certainly not the kind of music I would call my favorite. My personal preference is music that isn’t as heavily produced and lyrics that make me want to write something myself. However, I can appreciate the basic message of “Distorted Light Beam:” the idea of living in our dreams, where the possibilities are endless. It is something I’ve often thought about.

Multiple songs in the album reference movies in their names. The first such track is “Thelma+Louise.” I enjoy this one a fair bit, as it isn’t as heavily produced. I don’t know much about the movie the song references in the name and throughout, but the lyrics pump me up. For whatever reason, the song is what I imagine the heart eye emoji feels like. The other track named after a movie is “Back to the Future,” referencing the popular 1985 movie. I enjoy the trumpet sound that is sprinkled in this track. Referencing these movies only emboldens the escapist theme of the album.

One of the standout songs in the album, as it is relatively subdued, is “No Bad Days.” I prefer an acoustic version of the song, but this more electro-pop version is a better stylistic fit for the album. Bastille frontman Dan Smith said the song came about after his aunt passed away in 2019. It is a very heartfelt song, with delicate piano and vocals. The swearing is cathartic. It is a very timely song, considering the pandemic and all the bad news and loss on various levels we’ve all had to endure. The final track on the album, “Future Holds,” sounds similar to “No Bad Days,” at least in the refrain. The songs are otherwise not related. The added vocals by BIM elevate this song greatly. 

There are a few tracks that are angsty in nature. “Plug in…” is one such track entirely about the takeover of tech and the chaos in today’s world. Smith’s vocals serve as a rant, venting out the feelings most of us college aged youth endure at this time. While I am not a fan of obvious uses of autotune, I understand why the choice was made, as I think it adds to the techno, sci-fi vibe the album is all about. I don’t enjoy the choice, though. “Promises,” on the other hand, is a spoken word by British actor and rapper Rizwan Ahmed that comes right after and doubles down on the same themes in a much more elegant manner. As someone who dabbles in poetry, I respect the inclusion of powerful words by a fellow South Asian. The album is better for it. 

“Shut Off the Lights” is a well placed song, considering the dark realities touched on by “Promises” and “Plug In…” One of my favorites on the album, it is high tempo and makes me — ever reluctant to dance — want to break into moves and escape reality. The saxophone solo is majestic, while the chorus almost compels you to break a leg. 

“Club 57” is a decent little song that questions the nature of a relationship, whether what they have is love or just a desire for attention and satisfaction. I could see this song featured on a video game soundtrack like that of FIFA

Saving the best for last, I would like to shout out the title track. “Give Me the Future” is probably my favorite of all. Despite having negative memories pertaining to my health associated with the song around when it was released as a single, I enjoy it. The wistful violin coupled with Smith’s vocal range elevates the song to top spot in my current rankings. Yes, it could be stripped down even further, but even so, it was probably the one single out of the five released that had me most excited for the album. It’s a shame that the rest of the album is less like this track. 

I miss the Bastille that made Bad Blood and Wild World, two albums I really enjoy. The direction they’ve taken since differs from what I enjoy best, but I understand bands wishing to evolve. All my favorites have done so. After all, are we the same people we were even a year ago? I know I am not. Our favorites cannot stay stuck in time and neither can we, as hard as it may be sometimes.

The songs on Give Me the Future are decent and there are some signature Bastille elements still present. Dan’s voice is still a joy to behold. The two interludes add to the wholeness of the album. While I wouldn’t play the album on repeat all day, I can see it being popular with listeners in British nightclubs and beyond. It has radio potential. Maybe I would pick out a few tracks every now and then if I wanted a burst of energy in my life. Until then, however, I would hold onto the earlier tracks that made me fall in love with the band.

Grade: B

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Anupras Mohapatra

Anupras Mohapatra is a former opinion editor for The Daily Cardinal and currently serves on the Editorial Board. He is a senior double majoring in Computer Science and Journalism. 

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