Bad Blood was a definitive debut album for Bastille. It set in stone a style which involved whining, chanting vocals from lead singer Dan Smith, and a pounding drum beat at every possible opportunity. So with their follow-up release, Wild World, challenging our understanding of the band, it’s a respectable but dangerous move for them to take.
Wild World is the album Bastille needed to create. A simple repetition of Bad Blood‘s drum-focussed style may please some fans, but the second album is always seen as an opportunity for development. In this case, we see falsetto in Good Grief, a haunting trombone melody in Send Them Off! and hazy, gloomy instrumentals in tracks such as Two Evils and Fake It. We also hear spoken and recorded speech being played in certain songs which, although unusual, is an interesting way to use something that artists such as Taylor Swift and Public Service Broadcasting have used in the past. It’s clear that on the search for a fresh, adapted style, Bastille have hung on to their roots whilst making music they know will stand out.
After all, there’s still anthems on the tracklist which Bad Blood fans will appreciate. Good Grief, Send Them Off!, Blame and Power all boast exaggerated drum grooves, for example. Yet, whilst their debut sounds relatively upbeat in tone, it’s clear that Wild World has a darker, more haunting feel to it, with guitar, bass and heavy synth melodies taking centre stage. The album is a great mix of old and new.
Whilst the instrumental aspect of Bastille’s style has taken a step forward, Dan Smith’s vocals remain consistent throughout most of the 14 songs – with Good Grief being a clear exception. Four Walls (The Ballad of Perry Smith), Two Evils, Glory and An Act Of Kindness all emphasise Dan’s vocals, only for him to replicate his traditional, soulful voice we’ve seen on Bad Blood. The falsetto in Good Grief was a risk, but it worked out well. It would have been better to see more daring experiments with Dan’s vocals, but we may just see that in their next album.
Rating: 4 out of 5