If there’s one song that encapsulates Bastille’s new album, it’s track eight: “Send Them Off!” It epitomizes what Bastille achieved with “Wild World”—because it’s not what you’ll be expecting.
Nearly every song on “Wild World” is a surprise. It’s a smart move for the British indie pop band, who scored big in 2013 with their hit “Pompeii.” They could’ve released near-copies of the song in hopes of repeating their success, but instead they’ve expanded their sound.
Too often, artists make the mistake of choosing a sound and clinging stubbornly to it. Bastille turns this habit on its head. There’s a wide variety of styles in “Wild World,” from tear-jerkers to music that even hip-hop fans will enjoy.
But that’s not to say there’s nothing in there for fans of “Pompeii.” Bastille kicks off the album with the lead single “Good Grief,” an upbeat number that serves as a notice that yes, Bastille is still an indie band and no, they’re not going to forget it. Drummer Chris Wood stands out, setting the stage for an album that relies heavily on the strong beats that he provides. “Good Grief ” is a happy-sound- ing song that is fun to listen to, but it’s when Bastille departs from this signature sound that they really shine.
“Way Beyond” is one good example of this departure from typical indie. The song is characterized by an almost hip- hop beat. Dan Smith, the lead vocalist, delivers his lines with flow, and while he’s no Kendrick Lamar, the rap influences are clear. It’s a pleasant surprise for those with strict expectations, and showcases the band’s versatility.
Bastille unfortunately falls short when they try too hard to diversify their sound. In songs like “Glory,” starting slow only to have the song jump to a markedly different style and then back again becomes confusing.
You can see what they’re trying to achieve, and when it works, it works well. In “An Act of Kindness,” the slow ballad start and the surprise of a hard-hitting beat has the same chilling effect as a bass drop. But the reason it works for “An Act of Kindness” is that when it picks up, it keeps that pace.
Despite the shortcomings, however, Bastille has delivered an enjoyable piece of work. With 19 tracks, there’s something for everybody in “Wild World.” The album is proof that this band has a flexible style, and it’s this flexibility that ensures Bastille isn’t going to be another one-hit wonder. If they can keep this going, then it’s all uphill from here.