Bastille’s New Album Offers Escapism


The album’s artwork compliments its experimental futuristic sound (Courtesy of Twitter).

Let’s be real. We’re living in a pretty  messed-up timeline. Pandemics, climate crises, protests — why don’t we all stay inside and listen to some music to escape it all?

Bastille’s new album, “Give Me the Future,” addresses that sentiment. This album considers the disasters of the outside world with clever lyrics, then chooses to turn away in favor of escaping into fiction, love, dance and virtual reality. “Give Me the Future” is a beautiful collection of futuristic, escapist bops that manage to deliver a powerful message without being hopelessly depressing.

“Give Me the Future” opens with three of its five promotional singles. The first of these, “Distorted Light Beam,” is the song that sound tracked my summer. It has a dance-pop feel that somewhat departs from Bastille’s earlier sound, but the band’s hallmarks are all still there. “Distorted Light Beam” also establishes the album’s main theme: daily life is difficult, dreaming is easier.

The beginning of “Give Me the Future” is closed out by the singles “Thelma + Louise” and “No Bad Days.” The first song is a fun spin on the 1991 film “Thelma & Louise.” On “No Bad Days,” Singer Dan Smith’s voice breaks out with raw power as he sings a eulogy to his aunt over a simple background beat. These three songs make up a strong emotional core before the album breaks into its own sound.

The album then plunges into  science fiction with an interlude titled “Brave New World” — a nod to Aldous Huxley’s dystopian novel. In the next song, “Back to the Future,” we hear references to George Orwell’s “1984,” Aldous Huxley’s “Island,” “Bladerunner,” “The Wizard of Oz” and, of course, the titular film “Back to the Future.” “Back to the Future” is probably my favorite song on the album. Bastille carefully constructs a song that addresses a complex topic — our dystopian reality and our desire to escape from it — without bringing me down. The synth-pop sound makes it feel smooth and there’s an occasional burst of brass instruments to keep things feeling fresh.

“Plug In…” takes on the cascade of crises we’ve experienced recently in a pair of rap-like verses. For instance, the climate crisis: “Icecaps’ll fall, Cali’ll burn / Willful denial until it’s my turn / Bunch of old white men who don’t give a f— / Are we having fun yet?” The next track, “Promises,” a spoken-word piece by rapper Riz Ahmed, addresses the same subject. Ahmed’s deep voice paired with a minimalistic backing track contrast with the album’s synth-laden, electronic vibes. Both “Plug In…” and “Promises” stress love and human relationships as part of our escape from crises. These songs offer a muted, emotional perspective in the middle of a pop album.

In the latter half of “Give Me the Future,” Bastille pulls us back into the futuristic soundscape. The refrain of “Shut Off The Lights” is a triumphant “Shut off the lights / We don’t need them to dance!” “Stay Awake?” opens with a robotic female voice — she sounds just like Siri — reading lyrics in a halting, atonal voice.

“Give Me the Future” holds off on its title track until near the end of the album. The song “Give Me the Future,” released on Bastille Day, calls out to virtual reality as a way to grasp a better future than the one that shrinks before us. This song also contains my favorite lyrics of the album: “I tasted endless love that takes control / Endless love and I wanted more.” The yearning in Smith’s voice hits me right in the chest.

The album finds its only dud in “Club 57.” Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a bop, but it falls flat compared to other songs on “Give Me the Future.” The lyrics feel uninspired compared to the intricately woven lyrics of “Plug In…” or the emotional chorus of “No Bad Days.”.

The album concludes with a second interlude and a closing track titled “Future Holds.” The final song features vocals by BIM, an up-and-coming singer with a gorgeous voice. Her vocals complement Smith’s beautifully. BIM’s first EP came out last month, and I hope to hear her collaborate with Bastille again. 

All together, “Give Me the Future” is an emotional, futuristic, depressing and flourishing bop. The album has its highs and its lows, its quiet emotional songs and its screaming-along-in-the-car bangers. While “Give Me the Future” is a departure from Bastille’s typical, more mellow, alt-pop sound on its prior albums, it gives me hope for what the band will do in  the future.